What are your thoughts on "summer brain drain"? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 40 Old 05-29-2011, 05:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We had a parents meeting with the head of our school and the school librarian to talk about summer reading lists and math workbooks. The statistic that they quoted was "a child can lose two months of reading and spelling skills over the summer." 

 

Kumon and other "learning centers" are advertising REALLY heavily in our area right now about avoiding "summer brain drain". The ads basically try to convince you that your child will be way behind without summer tutoring.

 

Our school requires the following but I am lucky that my son loves to read and math is his strength. If the school didn't hand out math work books he would be online or using his allowance to buy some, LOL. He is balking at the idea of "required" reading but I know if we just pile a bunch of books next to is bed they will get read. Plus the onus is on him not me so, like homework, if it gets done great.  If it doesn't no big deal. 

 

In K-3 the students are encouraged to read from a long list of books/authors and are required to complete a math workbook over the summer months. For reading the thought is "no matter what your child reads, as long as it interests him/her, reading skills will continue to improve over the summer." so there is no required amount of reading. The math work book translates to about 2 pages a week and is turned in at the start of the school year.

 

In grades 4-5 students are given one core book that they are required to read over the summer.  They are encouraged to takes notes and build a summary of the book to be used as a basis for writing assignment in the Fall.  They are also required to read one book from four sections of the summer reading list: Fiction, Biography/Arts/Poetry, History/Geography, Science/Mathematics. The math work book translates to about 5 pages a week and is reviewed by the teacher in the fall. The students and parents are encouraged to make notes on areas of difficulty to assist the the teacher in assessing each child in the fall but it is not required.

 

In grades 6-7 it is basically the same as grades 4/5 but the books are more complex and there is a summer book report due at the end of the summer and but the math works books are still about 5 pages a week.

 

Like I said "Summer brain drain" is a non issue for us because my son would be reading and doing math all summer even w/o the school requirements but there are a lot of parents who are really pissed saying that "Their summer is ruined", "Now I get to spend all summer arguing with my kids", "Summer is for fun not work!". Plus the working parents are feeling the pressure because basically their schedules don't change. The kids are in all day camps so this stuff needs to be done at night or on weekends. 

 

So, are you worried about summer brain drain? If you are what are you doing about it? Does your kid have a tutor or go to Kumon or the like? Do you schedule "reading time" or set aside time each day for learning?

 

If you are not, why not?

 

Does your school require summer work? If they do you "force the issue" or are you more laid back letting your child set the pace?


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#2 of 40 Old 05-29-2011, 07:42 AM
 
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In my mind, "summer brain drain" is a lot like the wedding business -- it's an industry focused heavily on creating a specific need, to the extent of becoming a part of our culture, but there isn't necessarily a real problem being solved. If meeting certain testing standards is the primary goal, then summer brain drain is a real problem. If raising healthy, well-rounded children is the primary goal, then summer brain drain is a non-issue.

 

Right now, my kids are checking out an old text-based video game (Shadow Gate) dh put on the Wii. Our budding reader is happily reading the text directions and our non-reader is looking for instructions by letter at his sister's direction ("You want L-O-O-K now. See it?") They're having a blast, dh is thrilled to have a game he'll enjoy playing with them despite their vastly differing reading abilities, and they're strengthening their reading skills at their own pace and interest. I don't particularly care if this helps them meet educational standards, but I know it will. It cost us no money and very little effort.

 

My primary goal for them this summer is to get out and play as much as possible. Honestly, I think that will do them more good than following a school's syllabus for the little time they're not in school. This is our first year in the public school system, so I don't know how they're going to approach the summer, but I have a good enough relationship with the principal and relevant teachers there to know that even if we don't follow a syllabus, there won't be a problem.

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#3 of 40 Old 05-29-2011, 07:45 AM
 
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It's not something I worry about  in general but I have used the time to work on certain things with my youngest. DS (10) has some pretty major penmanship issues (bad enough that he's had occupational therapy for it.) Going 11 weeks without writing is a really bad idea for him and he'd never just spontaneously start writing on his own. I usually assign a "paragraph of the week" in the summer just to keep his penmanship from totally deteriorating. It takes all of 5 minutes but it really does make a difference. This summer, instead of paragraphs, I'm teaching him cursive because it was dropped from the curriculum at his elementary school and it's a skill I still want my children to have.

 

The only thing I ever did with my eldest in the summer was teach her cursive because she wanted to learn it a couple years before it came up in school. Otherwise, there was no need. She only started getting summer assignments in high school. Every grade is given a book list and they have to choose one to reade and be prepared to do a timed writing test on it when school resumes in the fall. It's no big deal to read one book in 13 weeks.

 

I honestly don't think it's something most families have to worry about. Most schools spend the first couple weeks in school reviewing the previous year anyway. Like I said though, I'm not above using that time to fill in gaps you see or to keep up a skill you know is a real challenge for your child.


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#4 of 40 Old 05-29-2011, 08:39 AM
 
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oh how i hate that stance. with a vengence.

 

it is a reality. i know because i am a student and breaks in math and language really has an impact on me. 

 

but school - it makes me mad. 

 

why?

 

because the first month - yes MONTH school is all about reviewing last years work. 

 

so then why make my child go thru math and reading in summer when the school is anyways going to do it the first month of school. that repeatition takes a lot out of kids. they hate it and find it so boring. 


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#5 of 40 Old 05-29-2011, 10:22 AM
 
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My kids' school, which I love, doesn't require any summer work. Volunteer hours are required of Jr. High and High School students, and many of them choose to get them out of the way during the summer, but it's a choice they make. I kinda like that because it means that for the last month the kids have all been talking about cool ways to volunteer during the summer, and some of them signed up for programs with their friends. It's very nice.

 

As far as the "brain drain" thing, I can see how going for several months without doing any reading or math could be a problem, but I think it's most likely better for kids to do math that is on their level and hopefully even fun. Many kids are either a little ahead or a little behind their grade level, and I think that assigning the same work to everyone could get in the way of their parents having the freedom to work on their child to fill in gaps, or to do something more challenging. Plus, there are so many ways to do math that aren't worksheets -- playing games, sewing, building, music, being on a swim team etc.

 

Reading is kinda the same. yes, it's a great idea for kids to read over the summer. But if my DDs were going to public school, they would both need to read "To Kill a Mockingbird" this summer and write a report on it. I don't have anything against "To Kill a Mockingbird" but I'm glad that I don't have to force my kids to read it and write a report on it this summer. I'm fine with the fact that one of my kids will read all fantasy novels, and the other will read 17 next to the pool while talking to a friend.

 

I can think of so many situations where specific assigned work either wouldn't happen or would be a burden, such as:

 

kids moving during the summer

kids spending much of summer with other parent, who doesn't care about the school work

parents are deeply struggling and in crises, or don't speak English,

kids with LDs who barely made it through the school year and are in desperate need of a real break

kids who need to be in full time *camps* from 7:30-5:30 because parents are at work, and are exhausted and zoombie like at the end of the day

 

when I was a kid, my mom used to pick up little workbooks from the grocery store for us in the summer, and we enjoyed doing them. None the less, I think that penalizing children whose parents can't make that happen for whatever reason is just mean.

 

<<In grades 4-5 students are given one core book that they are required to read over the summer.  They are encouraged to takes notes and build a summary of the book to be used as a basis for writing assignment in the Fall.  They are also required to read one book from four sections of the summer reading list: Fiction, Biography/Arts/Poetry, History/Geography, Science/Mathematics.>>

 

Both my kids are avid readers who tested as reading on college level by the end of elementary school, and this would have been a complete nightmare with both of them. They would have hated this.

 

I think that school should stay out of how families spend their summer. Giving the kids a math work book to do if they want to incase the parents wouldn't make that available would be fine to me, and I like the idea of public libraries making presentations on their summer reading programs.  But that's it. No actual requirements. Just some options.

 


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#6 of 40 Old 05-29-2011, 10:23 AM
 
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#7 of 40 Old 05-29-2011, 12:09 PM
 
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Quote:
The statistic that they quoted was "a child can lose two months of reading and spelling skills over the summer."

 

but how long does it take them to get it back?  It isn't like the child regresses so far that they'll never catch up & it will impact them down the road.

 

personally don't believe/care about it.  My kids read for fun, they all read well above grade level, if they lost a few skills it won't impact them.  They won't do any math or take any education classes over the summer.  

 

My kids are going to be kids this summer.  If they do anything educational it is going to be practicing their printing because it's getting bad.  They are 12, 10 & 9.

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#8 of 40 Old 05-29-2011, 12:30 PM
 
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I think the view that kids lose a lot during summer is the result of tunnel vision. Most of the kids I know are busy working on a whole different skill set - playing creatively, spending time outside, etc. - that tends to suffer during the school year. I'd be fine with the school offering resources, but not happy if they were actually assigning homework over the summer. What happens if the kids don't finish it? I know we were given reading lists that we were supposed to read over summer starting in about 5th grade - I was an avid reader, but never read more than a book or two off the "required" list, and don't remember ever getting in trouble for not reading...

 

That said, my son goes part-time to a science-based summer camp every year. I need child care for him anyway, and he loves the camp. He gets plenty of time to just have fun at camp, but they do fun science-based projects and experiments, too. It's all hands on stuff, like growing a garden and learning about plant life cycles, or getting water out of the pond, and learning about the critters in it. Last year, he was ahead of his peers in science at the beginning of the year, and I think camp had a lot to do with it.

 

We also sign up for the library reading program. He gets to pick whatever books he wants to read for the program, and work at his own pace. Last year, he gained a reading level over summer without us having to really work at it.

 

I've also started a letter writing project with him because his penmanship leaves a lot to be desired. He writes a letter to anyone he wants once a week or once every other week. He can write whomever he wants and whatever he wants, all I ask is that he try to keep it as neat as possible. He groans a bit about it, but I think it is good for him to

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#9 of 40 Old 05-29-2011, 04:35 PM
 
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I don't think anything should be mandatory.  Lots of things families do for fun , like family game night ( actually we play dungeons and dragons with my DH as the DM), traveling to new locations, having the kids visit a relative that has different hobbies and therefore learning new skills, reading for fun, drawing, playing hangman outside under the apple tree, volunteering, getting a summer job or starting a business all help out with school, and more importantly, life skills. DS1 has probably gained more school skills from running a small business and being in a young entrepreneur's program and a community leadership program than anything he did directly in school (and his improvement in grades since involvement back up my theory). Making things mandatory takes away the fun and narrows people's interests and range of learning experiences.  A suggestion list is fine, though.  One of our kid's teachers had this hundred things to do in the summer list, and they had a lot of fun trying out the activities.  I don't think they would have had fun if it was mandatory.


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#10 of 40 Old 05-29-2011, 06:08 PM
 
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From what I understand, there can be a significant learning loss over the summer, though the reading/ELA loss I believe is closely tied to socio-economic status.  Children of lower income backgrounds tend to lose skills, whereas kids of higher income backgrounds tend to stay the same or even increase their skills a bit.  I don't remember the studies, but have worked a lot in a school-based tutoring program and this discrepancy seems to be a significant factor in lower reading scores for kids of some backgrounds.  I believe that kids across the board lose a couple month's worth of math.  If anyone knows the citations for any of this I'd welcome them!

 

How that plays out for our family is that I do try to keep the kids engaged in things like reading and math, but not as mandatory assignments or worksheets.  We go to the library on a weekly basis where the kids love picking out books.  Last year we read the BFG together as a family which was fun.  My daughter and I write back and forth in a journal, both during the schoolyear and the summer.  She writes emails to family, and teaches her brother to play scrabble junior.  We play bananagrams.  Anything that's fun and keeps up her skills.  For math it's the same.  We just instated a rule that at the store, if she can tell me how much change I'm due back before the cashier either says it or hands it to us, she gets to keep the change.  She plays a few math-games on the computer.  I have her cook with me and work to double recipes.  We sometimes randomly practicing multiplication facts or watch old schoolhouse rocks episodes.  I do have a workbook around because sometimes she enjoys them.  Multiplication Mosaics is also cool for this. 

 

Sometimes we do a themed week.  The kids will ask me if we can learn about, say, rainforests.  So we get books about that, a movie or two, we reserve passes to the local zoo, and do some craft like make paper-plate tropical birds or something random like that.  It actually helps me to come up with activities when there's a theme and the kids really love it.  I think that would be significantly impacted by mandatory summer work and we'd probably overall get less learning done! 


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#11 of 40 Old 05-29-2011, 08:52 PM
 
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We could, of course, solve this problem by no longer assuming that children need to be out of school from June to September, but to spread out the school year more evenly.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsH View Post

From what I understand, there can be a significant learning loss over the summer, though the reading/ELA loss I believe is closely tied to socio-economic status.  Children of lower income backgrounds tend to lose skills, whereas kids of higher income backgrounds tend to stay the same or even increase their skills a bit.  I don't remember the studies, but have worked a lot in a school-based tutoring program and this discrepancy seems to be a significant factor in lower reading scores for kids of some backgrounds.  I believe that kids across the board lose a couple month's worth of math.  If anyone knows the citations for any of this I'd welcome them!

 

yeahthat.gif Our librarian quotes a statistic that lower income children who live more than a mile from a library usually won't get to the library over the summer. They will often go a whole summer with no books. 

 

On the other hand, our middle class academic family will go to the library weekly, or more often if need be. When they run out of books, we download books via our smart phones (there's a lot of classic literature that's available for free). Dd is in the middle of writing a play to be acted out with her stuffed animals and filmed.

 

Math is harder to work into everyday life in our house. This year, our ds is already setting up his 'Animal Ball' league where he's going to track the batting averages and ERAs of all the animals on his team (hello long division!). One of the things we bring in to church are workbooks like "Third Grade Fun" which review reading and math concepts. When the dd gets bored during the sermon, she works on that. My kids also search out computer programs that require reading, and to a lesser extent, math. I'm not worried about summer brain drain for my kids.
 

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#12 of 40 Old 05-29-2011, 09:34 PM
 
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Quote:
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 reading/ELA loss I believe is closely tied to socio-economic status.  Children of lower income backgrounds tend to lose skills, whereas kids of higher income backgrounds tend to stay the same or even increase their skills a bit.  I don't remember the studies, but have worked a lot in a school-based tutoring program and this discrepancy seems to be a significant factor in lower reading scores for kids of some backgrounds.


 

This totally makes sense to me, but I don't see how required summer homework will help!

 

I think that question should be "how can we make sure that lower income kids have access to cool and interesting things to keep their minds growing over the summer"?

 

 

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#13 of 40 Old 05-29-2011, 11:04 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

 

 

I think that question should be "how can we make sure that lower income kids have access to cool and interesting things to keep their minds growing over the summer"?

 

 


It's really hard to do. Our local district has tried. They still manage to offer free theatre and fun science, math, language camps as part of summer school but they can't afford to transport the kids. This means it's more the kids with an at-home parent or live in walking distance who attend. The local library has free events for all ages. The community center has free middle/highschool activities and field trips but again, the kids need a parent to sign them up and a way to get to the building. Often, in lower-income homes in our area, older children are needed to be home and watch younger siblings in the summer. My DD's highschool has an amazing 2 week intensive program in the summer where they bring in university instructors, professionals in various art forms, ect. It's all paid for with grants but the transportation thing can be a real issue even for the middle-class families.

 

Buses are crazy expensive in our area and gas prices aren't helping. It is unfortunate how MUCH is actually out there for low-income families that just isn't being utilized because of logistics.
 

 


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#14 of 40 Old 05-30-2011, 12:49 AM
 
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Our PTA just put out a "summer brain drain" flyer with tons of websites.  My DD (age 7, going into 2nd grade) will be doing a 3rd grade level reading workbook from Sylvan (vocab, reading comp and spelling) and the 2nd grade math workbooks for Everyday Math (district uses it) this summer.  We'll be putting her in 3rd grade math in the fall and working with the teacher for advanced stuff for reading and spelling.

 

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#15 of 40 Old 05-30-2011, 08:22 AM
 
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It's an issue for us.  2 1/2 months without math skill practice doesn't work very well for one of my kids.  It isn't the kind of thing that magically comes back in the first few weeks of school, although I wish it was.  I don't think some skills work gets in the way of summer vacation at all.

 

Reading isn't an issue because we're voracious readers anyway, but I know that some of the teachers find it really hard when kids have not read at all over the summer.

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#16 of 40 Old 05-30-2011, 09:07 AM
 
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I know skills regression happens for some children, so I understand the schools' concerns.   

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

We could, of course, solve this problem by no longer assuming that children need to be out of school from June to September, but to spread out the school year more evenly.
 

 


I love long summer holidays but we've been in a system that offered 4 ten-week school terms, with 3 two-week vacations (in autumn, winter and spring) and 1 six-week summer break. It struck the right balance between school and vacation. I think it also provided more flexibility for family time. Some parents can manage winter vacations but not summer.  Overall, I think it works better and I suspect skills regression isn't such a problem there.  

 

 

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#17 of 40 Old 05-30-2011, 10:32 AM
 
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I love long summer holidays but we've been in a system that offered 4 ten-week school terms, with 3 two-week vacations (in autumn, winter and spring) and 1 six-week summer break. It struck the right balance between school and vacation. I think it also provided more flexibility for family time. Some parents can manage winter vacations but not summer.  Overall, I think it works better and I suspect skills regression isn't such a problem there.  

 

 


Our county has been having lots of conflict over this idea. We have some true year-rounds, some adapted year rounds and some traditional (including out largest district which is also the 6th largest in the nation.) In elementary, it's not such a problem but in the teen years, those on year round are at a real disadvantage. Those teens can't compete for job when they have a 3 week summer and another has 13 weeks and there aren't many year round positions available to teens that provide more than a couple hours a week. Year-round kids are ommitted from most internship opportunities and interest-based intensive study programs which tend to be about 6 weeks long and during school hours. We've known parents who have put their kids on independant study contracts for the first several weeks of high school so their kids CAN participate. I suppose the answer is to force all the school districts to sync their calendars to year round but still, it would take away from certain opportunites where you really need weeks of full days to really dig in and learn.

 

No easy answers.
 

 


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#18 of 40 Old 05-30-2011, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That type of calendar has been debated around here too but most working families (and single parents) are dead set against it. Working parents rarely get that amount of time off and often can not take 2 weeks off back to back. In our current public school calendar the average working parents does a switch off for the 3 one week school vacations and then enroll their kids in summer camps. More affluent families might switch off for two of them and then both parents will take off the same week for a family vacation. But that still leaves the summer wide open.  And of course most parents are already paying for "after school" care too.

 

Around here the cost of summer camps is a lot less than your average day care facility. You can also get summer (college age) nannies pretty cheap too. Those two are the most economical choices for working parents. There is hardly any places to send your older/school aged kids during school year breaks. The Y has a few programs but they are pretty $$. While I am sure more businesses would sprout up if the calendar did change but I could see a lot of summer camps closing or raising their rates due to the loss of revenue.

 

The biggest argument is that it would cost working parents a lot more money to cover a 3 two-week vacations and 1 six-week summer break. Single parents have it even harder since a working class level parent might only get 2-3 weeks paid vacation a year with no partner to trade off with.

 

I don't see the calendar changing here anytime soon


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#19 of 40 Old 05-30-2011, 07:06 PM
 
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Does your school truly require summer math homework or just suggest it? Do kids get a grade for turning in their math books? I remember the summer after 4th grade, my DD said they were supposed to do a math workbook to turn in at the beginning of the year. She did the whole thing. Guess how many of the other 45 fourth graders did it? One.

 

I don't see how teachers can require things to be turned in in the fall. I could see it working if a child was in a summer school program but not on their own. What if the child loses the math workbook? What if the parents don't have the resources to buy the suggested summer reading books? Yes, there is the library but there might not be enough copies for everyone in the class to check one out. Our library lets you check out a book for 3 weeks, which means that potentially only what, 4 kids? could check it out over the summer, if they all kept it 3 weeks.

 

Our school does a "Club 1000" reading program over the summer. Kids keep track of their reading (or being read to) and if it totals 1000 min over the summer and they turn it in, they get a t-shirt when school starts up. They are also starting a Math 1000 club this summer where the kids can do math in workbooks or on certain websites and keep track of it. My 1st grader seems excited to do both of these, my 5th grader, not so much. He did get a pre-algebra book from his teacher to work on over the summer because he is doing 7th grade algebra in the fall. But I am not too concerned if he does it, he already did 6th grade math this year so is going into algebra with the same background as all the 6th graders.

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#20 of 40 Old 05-30-2011, 07:38 PM
 
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Ugh, I really cringe at the idea of anything shortening or interfering with summer vacation. That was the only time I ever got anything done! Writing stories, drawing pictures, teaching myself things, translating the scripts of Japanese video games, maybe occasionally doing something fun (reading fiction, playing a video game) or seeing my poor neglected friends.... I was too much of a zombie each day after school to be productive, and there's only 48 hours in a weekend!

 

There are a lot of other kids out there who are, for various reasons, in some kind of school to which they are not well-suited. These kids need long breaks to learn things (by themselves or because their parents are essentially homeschooling them) and to just enjoy life for a change.

 

That aside, I sort of look at "summer brain drain" as a test for the school. A person who truly understands something isn't going to forget because of taking a three-month break! It's one thing if the child needs a quick refresher to relearn the terminology and other little details, but if he's totally forgotten huge chunks of it, that means the school did not succeed in instilling an understanding of that topic in that child. We want the school to pass the test, not to stop taking it. Of course, if you're the parent of that child, that doesn't make you feel any better.

 

As for those services that say your kid will be "behind," how is he going to be behind if all the other kids also had summer-brain-drain? HIf anything, the service will only make him become "ahead," so he will spend the first few months of school bored silly.

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#21 of 40 Old 05-30-2011, 08:12 PM
 
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At the elementary level both my kids did some work in math....probably averaged out to be an hour(sometimes more a week).  Of course they do reading on their own.  I felt the math work was very important for both of my kids...in part because they had a weak curriculum .

 

My junior high aged daughter is planning on doing some self directed work in science.  Her own goal is to get into a certain science track in high school, and she is hoping that some extra studying will get her there.

 

I used to think things like year round school(more actual school days) seemed like a great idea.  Our district has been tossing around the idea of a balanced calendar for some elementaries.  Balanced calendar means same number of days....except the breaks are shorter and spread out more through the year.  Who would want to take a three week break in February, when our temps could be hovering aroung 0 degrees?  A balanced calendar would have a huge impact on a lot of the activities we like to do in the summer.  I'm not sure the potential benefits of a balanced calendar outweigh the potential drawbacks.

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#22 of 40 Old 05-31-2011, 06:09 AM
 
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 In elementary, it's not such a problem but in the teen years, those on year round are at a real disadvantage. Those teens can't compete for job when they have a 3 week summer and another has 13 weeks and there aren't many year round positions available to teens that provide more than a couple hours a week. Year-round kids are ommitted from most internship opportunities and interest-based intensive study programs which tend to be about 6 weeks long and during school hours. We've known parents who have put their kids on independant study contracts for the first several weeks of high school so their kids CAN participate. I suppose the answer is to force all the school districts to sync their calendars to year round but still, it would take away from certain opportunites where you really need weeks of full days to really dig in and learn.

 

No easy answers.
 

 


Yes, that is a drawback, I agree. Most of the students who had jobs either returned to them during the 2-week breaks, as well as the longer 6-week summer break, or worked part-time throughout the school year for  a few hours every week. In high school, part of the 10th grade curriculum required every student to complete a work study/co-op and community services placements, so they could gain some experience in different settings. It seemed to work out fine for them. 

 

 

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The biggest argument is that it would cost working parents a lot more money to cover a 3 two-week vacations and 1 six-week summer break. Single parents have it even harder since a working class level parent might only get 2-3 weeks paid vacation a year with no partner to trade off with.

 

 


Another vaild point. The funny thing is that no one in the almost-year-round system that I described would ever consider moving to a North American-style long 10-week summer vacation. They really enjoyed the regular 10-week terms and their four vacation breaks per year. They took advantage of more frequent family time throughout the year, rather than cramming everything into one summer vacation period. Of course, they also think the North American standard of 2 vacation weeks per year is utter craziness. 

 

 

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.Who would want to take a three week break in February, when our temps could be hovering aroung 0 degrees?  


Well, for a start, people who love winter. Skating, skiing, snow-shoeing, hiking, snuggling up in a cabin in the woods around a fireplace, playing board games can be as much fun as baking on hot sand under a melanoma-inducing sun. It doesn't even have to be a traditional snowy winter to make it more attractive for some. A lot of people living in tropical climates find summer temperatures of 100 to 110 F to be as difficult to cope with than 0 degrees, and prefer to vacation during the more comfortable winter months. Heck, I slow down when it's 80 or 85F and have to motivate myself to do much. 

 

Then there are the people who work in the summer tourist/hospitality industry, farmers, fishers, and other seasonal workers who cannot vacation in July or August. They tend to take their breaks in January and February. Even most retailers find February to be their slow season - after the Christmas rush and January sales and before new spring lines are introduced. February makes sense for a lot of people. 

 

 

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#23 of 40 Old 05-31-2011, 06:29 AM
 
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That aside, I sort of look at "summer brain drain" as a test for the school. A person who truly understands something isn't going to forget because of taking a three-month break! It's one thing if the child needs a quick refresher to relearn the terminology and other little details, but if he's totally forgotten huge chunks of it, that means the school did not succeed in instilling an understanding of that topic in that child. We want the school to pass the test, not to stop taking it. Of course, if you're the parent of that child, that doesn't make you feel any better.

 

 


Well, I don't think that fairly considers the variation in working memory, long term memory, task learning, consolidation of skills, and learning strategies for many people. Some kids are going to be just "getting it" after a year of hard work when the summer break comes along. Other students are going to need regular exposure, more reinforcement and frequent practice to maintain their skills. Long, long breaks are going to interfere with their consolidation of skills and allow regression. There are a few personal stories in this thread that support that proposition.  

 

I'm not fond of the idea of prescribed homework over the summer. Personally, I would feel that it was an intrusion into holidays and family time. OTOH, I did a lot with my kids outside of school, they are very capable learners, and we never needed that kind of ongoing structured learning support over long breaks. The schools are looking at the other kids - the ones who would benefit from some ongoing structured support. I'd suggest that "summer school" should be given only to those kids who need it, but I suspect it wouldn't be successful. The kids would resent it even more ("But my friend Johnny doesn't have summer homework!") and parents might consider it something shameful.  

 

I suppose basically it's the same old homework debate that gets chewed over here every few weeks. Parents should make their own assessment of what their child needs and proceed accordingly. 

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#24 of 40 Old 05-31-2011, 06:34 AM
 
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That aside, I sort of look at "summer brain drain" as a test for the school. A person who truly understands something isn't going to forget because of taking a three-month break! It's one thing if the child needs a quick refresher to relearn the terminology and other little details, but if he's totally forgotten huge chunks of it, that means the school did not succeed in instilling an understanding of that topic in that child.

 

 


I don't think that this is always the case.  Three months (give or take) can be a long time for some kids, even if the school has done a wonderful job of teaching the material.  There is, of course, some review for kids who need it at the beginning of the year, but there really are some kids who benefit from more consistent exposure to certain skills practice.

 

In general, we view summer as a wonderful time to explore, relax, vacation as a family, do some volunteer work, etc.  We do mix in some skills practice because, frankly, it helps make the return to school be done with confidence, and it's not really a huge deal to do it during the odd quiet afternoon.

 

 

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#25 of 40 Old 05-31-2011, 09:37 AM
 
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Ollyoxenfree I hear what you are saying. My point of saying zero degrees is that those activities are much less pleasurable than they might be at say 20 degrees.  Our February last year was brutal. I'd say where I live though that people value their time off during the warmer months.  For families that don't have a lot of money, skiing is not something commonly done. 

 

During the summers here many people do things like outdoor swimming lessons,tennis lessons, nature camps, girl scout camps etc.  So kids would have much less time to do things like this, or you would have many kids competing to get into a limited amount of slots at nature camp.

 

One other consideration is that as a family, we like to do some travel/outdoor activities during the warmer months.  My husband and I both have jobs where  everyone can take vacation time at once.  If summer break was shorter, that means more people would be competing to take certain weeks off....so it very well could mean we might not be able to do some of those same things as a family.

 

If there was a debate between balanced calendar(with less summer break) and a longer school year(also less summer break)...I'd definitely choose the longer school year.

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#26 of 40 Old 05-31-2011, 11:19 AM
 
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If there was a debate between balanced calendar(with less summer break) and a longer school year(also less summer break)...I'd definitely choose the longer school year.


 

I think it really depends on what latitude one lives. We live where the winters are warm and the summers are hellishly hot. The norm in our city is about 7-8 week break in the summer, a 3 week break in the fall (when the temperature is lovely),  a long Christmas break, and a week or two for a spring break. It varies a little from district to district, but most kids are back in school the first week of August.

 

Because the entire city runs this way, it works fine. There are lots of options for the fall break from camps at the science center to programs run through the schools to Parks and Rec. and most of those programs take advantage of the fact that the kids CAN be outside without risking heat stroke. There is far more going on in our city during fall break than during the August.

 

(My kids attend one of the few schools that doesn't start until Sept, and there's really nothing to do here in August. So that's when our family takes vacation!)

 

We used to live in Canada, and the summer days were to be savored. They were long and beautiful and over all too soon. The schedule that makes sense here would be completely foolish there.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#27 of 40 Old 05-31-2011, 02:41 PM
 
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No but i will be starting to make more of a effort in getting  my newly turned 5 yr old to start writing out his name. He does great tracing it out with a whiteboard marker on the sheet i laminated with his name on it.


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#28 of 40 Old 05-31-2011, 07:09 PM
 
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Who would want to take a three week break in February, when our temps could be hovering aroung 0 degrees?  

 

Those of use who get several days of -35F weather so we don't have to drive.  My elementary school kids usually have 2-3 WEEKS where they do not go outside at recess because it is too cold & often those weeks are 1-2 in a row. 

 

They get 8-9 weeks off for summer.

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#29 of 40 Old 05-31-2011, 07:33 PM
 
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It's all relative to area. I live in a temperate climate.Our areas heating costs are minimal in the winter/fall/spring where our air conditioning costs are very high in the summer and early fall. Financially, it makes sense for schools to be closed in the summer because they don't have to do more than open and shut windows most of the year. My friend teaches in Alaska. They take hardly any breaks during the school year (only a day or two for Christmas, no Spring Break, no snow days no matter the weather, ect.) Instead, they have a very lengthy summer which is the only time certain areas can even fly out to travel and the only time to really play outside without snowsuits. It works for them.


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#30 of 40 Old 05-31-2011, 08:00 PM
 
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In my observation, it's more of a problem for kids who are struggling learners who also come from disadvantaged backgrounds than it is for kids who live in an enriched, stable, involved environment.

 

I think getting more involved with some of the homeless and/or at-risk families in our district has really opened my eyes to a lot of things.  Some of the english language learning kids in particular really lose a lot of stuff over the summer.  Which makes a lot of sense--if I took Spanish for a year and then just stopped with no practicing, I'd get rusty.  If I then had to continue to take math, science, reading, writing, ect. in Spanish, by the time I caught up I'd probably be at a deficit in the other subjects.

 

That being said, I think the solution should be to offer library checkouts/academic interest clubs (with transportation) over the summer to kids who really could use it or who wish to participate.  One size fits all things don't really work, since the kids who probably are at the most risk of serious retention problems also don't have parents or environments that are conducive to getting worksheets/bookreading done anyway, no matter how motivated the kids might be (and many ARE motivated and do worry about falling back behind, esp. if they've busted their butt during the school year).

 

Fat chance of that with all the budget cuts.  It makes me crazy/sad to think about it. 

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