I'm genuinely curious why reading seems to get nearly all of the attention among those concerned about summer learning loss. Yes, the losses in reading achievement are staggering, particularly among low-income students, but equally alarming are the statistics about how much all kids - regardless of income -- stand to lose in math achievement when they don't practice those skills over the summer.
All kids are at risk of losing over two months of math performance during the elementary school years. This compromises our ability to teach math effectively right now, and jeopardizes our nation's long-term capacity to drive innovation, create jobs, and compete globally in fields like engineering, finance, medicine, technology where strong math skills are essential.
Think about it. How many organizations, campaigns, or programs in your community are dedicated to summer reading? We have the public libraries, large corporations, professional sports teams, and even local Chambers of Commerce promoting summer reading. Who's tackling the issue of summer math? Why aren't people willing to be champions for summer math the way libraries support reading during the summer break?
If you do a Google search using the following terms, here's what you get:
"summer reading programs for kids 2011" = 154 million hits
"summer math programs for kids 2011" = 21 million hits
Admittedly, that's a crude measurement, but I suspect it's true that summer reading programs are at least 7 times more prevalent than summer math programs. Even as parents, we find it much easier to ensure that our kids read than to ensure that they practice math over the summer. I wrote about my own struggle to find something for our kids in an earlier post.
I did check the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics website and found some great resources for teachers and parents to use, but this nowhere near enough to address this problem.
We need high profile advocates for STEM learning in the United States to take on the cause of summer math -- explicitly and on a large scale.
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