You must have felt it. The sweltering heat of the sun and the dry night breeze â€“ there is no mistaking that summer is here.Â Our air-conditioners and electric fans will again do the extra grind increasing our electric bills.
But for students and teachers alike, summer is all about fun. When I was a kid, I always looked forward to summer time because it means no more school and all play. I always envisioned the beach, the kite flying, the gallivanting away with friends to God knows where.Â I see to it that I wouldnâ€™t touch anything that would have anything to do with studying or school. That can wait until June.
And when school time gets near, there was a sense of refusal to end it all. Begrudgingly, I would begin to prepare my things for school yet my soul is left in my summer memories. The only consolation I had was the opportunity to share with my classmates my summer escapades, knowing that they were also ready with theirs.
To get the attention of her mentally-wandering students, our teacher would try to make our stories as the spring board to make a meaningful connection with our lessons. But try as she might, we always flounder whenever we get into the formal part. And then we begin to see that we could not remember most of the concepts that we have learned the previous school year.
And so the teacher would spend a considerable time to review to relearn what we have forgotten. That is why, almost always, we would not be able to finish the target coverage for the whole year, shortchanged by re-mastering the concepts which have mysteriously taken off from our little brains.
This phenomenon is indeed common among learners when summer time comes.Â This is called by cognitive scientists and educators alike as â€œSummer Brain Drainâ€ or â€œSummer Slideâ€. Â Â Studies show that a significant loss in learning particularly in reading, math, and science is observed during this time and nearly three months of instruction are forgotten by students over the summer break.
Why is this so? Because the academic discipline and habit which make neural connections in the brain strong and sturdy are now loosened by inactivity and lack of structured mental exercise. A 2-month summer break, more or less, is long enough to shirk whatever brain connections formed during the school year if the vacation is not spent well for meaningful enrichment.
Summer brain drain is even more pronounced among the low income families. Research shows that today, summer learning loss can be tied to economic status. During the school year, lower income childrenâ€™s academic skills in Kindergarten through 4th grade improve at close to the same rate as those of their more advantaged peers. But over the summer, middle-and-upper income childrenâ€™s skills continue to improve while lower income childrenâ€™s do not.
And this effect is cumulative. Summer after summer, low income kids lose roughly two months worth of learned skills which accounts for a huge and significant learning gap over the course of the elementary school years.
Of course, access to resources matter so much here. Those who can afford can easily send their kids to summer tutorials and classes which enhance all the more the learning their children get during the regular school year. Nevertheless, we need to bear in mind that this should not be reason why we could not continue to support our childrenâ€™s learning during the summer because to enrich their learning does not need formal training after all.
Parents just need to be creative and sensitive and take advantage of teachable moments. For instance, when they go to the grocery store, their kid can tag along and learn math as she counts the racks or the number of corned beef lined up, or even add the total amount of goods bought by mommy. A trip to the library will also enhance reading more. Or better yet, we can make reading as a job during the summer where a child will be given a monetary reward for reading a particular number of books.
But if the parents can afford, it is wise to send them to an enrichment school where fun and learning are creatively combined, where science is learned not just inside the classroom but through adventures outside. It is also important to note that the program should at least be small in terms of class size so that your kid will have all the care and attention of the teacher which makes learning more fun.
So, do not let this summer eat out the learning your children have painstakingly gained for the whole school year. Let the sweltering heat of summer all the more strengthen neural connections in their brains and maximize their potentials by enriching their summer experience. (By Kit Nemenzo Balane)
P.S. Bohol Child Head Start is offering summer programs and enrolment for the regular school year is on-going. Check our website at www.boholchild.com or contact us at 416-1248/09295571136.