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Summer Learning Loss Study: Can 'Summer Slide' Be Prevented?

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SUMMER LEARNING LOSS STUDY
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When summer relaxation is over and school starts back up, many students may find they've fallen behind.

A recently released survey from the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) confirms that teachers spend a significant amount of time re-teaching material due to summer learning loss. The survey, which was based on answers from 500 teachers, found that 66 percent teachers have to spend three to four weeks re-teaching students course material at the beginning of the year, while 24 percent of teachers spend at least five to six weeks re-teaching material from the previous school year.

The numbers surrounding summer learning loss may be especially dire for low-income students. A Johns Hopkins study of Baltimore Public Schools notes that low-income youths “lose more than two months in reading achievement” over summer vacation, while their middle-class counterparts make small gains in reading achievement. Regardless of income level, most students lose “two months of grade-level equivalency” in math skills every summer.

In addition, the NSLA's website states the following: "Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer."

A significant majority of the teachers surveyed by the NSLA agreed that such summer learning loss could be ameliorated if students participated in a summer learning program.

Gary Huggins, the CEO of the NSLA, told The Huffington Post that he recommends students participate in programs that have “enrichment activities with real academic rigor, connected in a line with what districts are trying to accomplish.”

“We think summer is a great break from school but not a great break from learning,” Huggins added.

The NSLA works with school districts to enact summer learning programs around the country. However, if your child will not be attending one, here are three easy ways to prevent summer brain drain in your house:

Start a family book club. Mommyfriend at Babble.com recommends that family member's take turns reading the same book and then meeting to discuss what they liked and did not like. Because your reading level is probably slightly more advanced than your child's, you will be able to breeze through the books, while creating family bonding time that enhances your child's critical thinking skills.

Make visiting the library part of your summer plan. Local libraries often have summer book clubs, book readings and scheduled arts and crafts events -- all activities that will keep your child's mind engaged during vacation time.

Recruit a little planner. Are you going away this summer? If so, put your children in charge of planning at least one aspect of the trip. Give them maps, brochures and guides, and see how they use their skills to figure out a plan.

Do you have any tips for preventing the summer slide? Leave your best idea in the comments below or tweet them to @HuffPostParents!

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