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Does Summer School Help?

Thu. 05/11/2017

The academic year is coming to a close. Summer is around the corner. Already we’re thinking about unwinding, relaxing and having fun. Summer, with its flexible schedule, is also a valuable opportunity to improve academic skills. This is especially true for students with academic challenges and learning differences.

What is summer slump and what can I do about it?

During the summer, many parents try to give their children a break from academics; everyone wants a little time away from demanding schedules and daily schoolwork. Parents know however, taking the whole summer off is not in a child’s best interest, especially if the child struggles with core academic skills such as reading, math, and written language. Studies confirm these parental instincts; they show that students often start the school year with a decrease in skill levels than had been demonstrated the previous spring, at the close of the school year. This skill regression is often referred to as “summer slump”. The amount of skill regression is related to whether the student is an “easy” learner or a learner that works hard for every academic success. Those who struggle in school show a greater learning loss.
There are many options for boosting academic skills and avoiding summer slump including: daily reading, listening to recorded books, daily journal writing, tutoring, exploring subjects through excursions, hands on experiences and encouraging hobbies. And yes, there are the more traditional summer schools and camps that encompass and coordinate many of these activities.

Without the demands of the busy school year, summer schools and camps give children opportunities to learn while addressing the challenges they may face in school. If camps are not feasible because of family vacations, then tutoring is a great solution to ensure a child at least maintains skills learned during the previous school year. Summer schools and camps are also an opportunity to pursue interests that get sidelined during the school year, and therefore offer opportunities for academic enrichment. Children attending summer camps and schools, who share similar learning profiles and/or interests, make friends with each other more quickly and build self-confidence all while boosting academic skills and having fun.

How do I know what approach is right? What’s the best fit?

  • Talk with your child’s teacher and find out where your child is most at risk for summer slump and whether a home program of casual reading, math practice, and journal writing are enough or whether your child needs something more targeted, like tutoring or a summer school or camp specifically designed to address academic needs.
  • If your child has trouble keeping up in school, consider diagnostic testing. By measuring cognitive learning patterns, academic achievement, executive functions, memory, and speech and language abilities, you can identify exactly what your child needs to boost skills. This targeted information will enable you to select just the right resources needed to at least maintain and even boost your child’s academic skills during the summer.
  • Ask questions of the administrators of the summer schools and camps you are considering, talk to parents or previous attendees about their experiences.

How much is too much? Keeping an eye on balance.

Balance is important to everyone. We all breathe a sigh of relief when summer starts. Some might argue that for children struggling to keep up, summer is a needed break from all the pressure. Fortunately, parents understand (and the research agrees) that creating engaging learning opportunities throughout the summer is important to maintain and even boost academic skills to avoid that dreaded summer slump! There are many options for your child to learn in a more relaxed way during the summer. Summer is around the corner. Relax. Have fun and help your child discover that learning does not only happen when it’s cold outside!

The Summit Resource Center offers independent diagnostic testing services, individual tutoring, summer programs, consultations, free workshops and seminars. For a complete summer programs visit our website or call 410-798-0005.