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How to prevent summer learning loss

Visit a museum with your kids

Photo: GettyImages

Congratulations! It’s June and your child has been promoted.

Now after a year of working hard, doing tons of homework assignments and sitting in an overcrowded classroom, your child gets to enjoy that little slice of heaven called summer vacation.

Now that summer has arrived, your youngster will get to enjoy two straight homework-free months of fun in the sun, youthful adventure and letting their mind rot away slowly. This summer, your child is at risk of falling behind intellectually.

As a New York City public high school teacher who has taught all levels ranging from 9th-grade special education to advanced placement 11th grade, I’ve noticed a trend that takes place over the summer: students get weaker academically.

Now there is hope for parents. There are a few basic steps you can take this summer to ensure that once the new school year begins, your child will be ready.

  • Take your child to the library – When I was a preteen, my parents always made sure that at least two days out of the week were spent at the local library. The air conditioning alone was enough to get to the biblioteca, but the library also had cool activities like board games and book clubs. If your child screams about how he or she doesn’t want to be at the library, force him or her to go anyway, and read a book while you’re there too to model intellectual behavior.
  • Go to a museum as a family – Wherever you are, there is probably one or more museums a short distance away. In addition to having pretty pictures or fossils, museums also enrich your child mentally.
  • Talk to your children – Seriously. Instead of simply letting your children sit on their culos in front of the television, talk about seemingly adult subjects with them. Your children are going to be around you more, so engage them in questions about careers, politics, the news, and their hopes and dreams.
  • Enroll your child in a summer academic course – Many colleges offer academic and recreational courses to children of varying ages. If you can afford one, it can’t hurt. As a child growing up in Brooklyn, my father worked overtime to send my siblings and I to summer programs at Kingsborough Community College; we complained a bit, but we still enjoyed the summer. We all have degrees from universities now, so the coursework must have had a positive impact.

I’m just writing this as a teacher, not a parent, so if you have any other ideas for preventing learning loss during the summer months, by all means post them here.

While summer is a time for our children to relax and have adventures, it shouldn’t be a time for intellectual regression.

About Eric J Cortes

Eric Jude Cortes describes his ethnic background as simply “New Yorker.” The son of an Italian mother and a Puerto Rican father, Eric Jude grew up in a Russian/Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn and attended extremely diverse public schools. Eric Jude credits his diverse upbringing with his success professionally, as since 2004 he has been teaching in a public high school with one of the largest percentage of foreign born students in the city. It is this diversity which has shaped his work for Being Latino, which have ranged from a lighthearted musing on the drink Malta, to a passionate diatribe against drug addicts. At the university level, Eric Jude has an MA in History, with a thesis on Contraband in Spanish Puerto Rico, from Brooklyn College. An avid traveler, Eric Jude’s bucket list includes a pledge to visit every Latin American country, something he has complete halfway so far. His secrets to success in life include faith, a type-A personality, and the ability to be silly and break into a dance at moment’s notice. Daily, he can be found running on your local street, lifting weights at your local gym, or praying at your local Catholic church.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

Comments

  1. Summer break is a concept that needs to be done away with. Serious thought has to be given to make school a year round schedule with the total years of school service being lowered from 12 years to possibly 9-10. Summer breaks were initially implemented when this country was primarily an agricultural society. Children were let out for the summer to work the fields and help their families harvest the crop before the winter months set in. There is no reason that children should have to leave school during the summer, because very few children live in the agricultural system that required extra labor during the summers. Year-round schools allow children to continue learning at a steady clip, without having to return to cover information they’ve already learned.

  2. Willie – great point! However, I think kids, like adults need a little bit of a vacation. It sometimes helps being you back with a fresh mind. I think 2-3 months off is a long time. But maybe a week here and there wouldn’t be so bad. We are in a competitive world and the US needs to step up a notch when it comes to education.

  3. Vanessa – I agree with a 2 week break here or there like spring break. I also agree with your thought that we must step up or be left behind. Many countries around the world do not have a summer break. In Europe it is very common to have school operating year round. When I was stationed overseas in Italy and Europe the grind was broken up by the numerous religious holidays that were observed by the community. I spent 2 months in Singapore and witnessed midle school children (10-11 year olds) performing at levels that you don’t see in the USA until HS. They were fluent in Mandarin, dialects of Hindu, and wait for it……English. This small Island country has grasped the concept of Bi Lingual Education and realizing that if they are to survive and succeed they must be able to operate in a global economy. This practice is active in Europe and Japan as well. I have seen it first hand. The fallacy of American superiority on a global scale is being exposed through our nationally poor academic performance.

  4. Many higher education programs do have summer sessions. There is no pedagogical reason requiring a long summer hiatus.

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