Beware the Summer Slide !
Educational experts are increasingly unanimous in the view that the school Summer Holiday, is “one of the most detrimental periods in a child’s life” (Dr J Lane).
There is not doubt that the summer holidays spell a welcome break from term time routines. Lazy mornings in pyjamas, catching up with friends, trips out and even getting a little bit bored. Surely it does your child the world of good? In some ways yes but read on . . .
As many teachers will explain when they return after the summer break it usually takes up to 6 weeks to re teach pupils skills and knowledge pupils had simply ‘forgotten’ over the summer. This would suggest that pupils only really begin new learning from about October half term – frightening stuff.
This kind of evidence isn’t simply anecdotal. The Institute for Public Policy Research points out that pupils fall behind academically because of the 6 week break. It is estimated that 66% of the achievement gap (between high achievers and low achievers) can be explained by summer learning loss.
The Review of Educational Research has found that students show at best little or no academic growth over the summer, and worst, they can lose up to 3 months worth of learning. Whilst spelling and literacy are clearly affected, it is Maths that suffers the most. Incredibly, pupils score lower on standardised tests taken at the end of the summer than at the beginning.
Other factors contribute too. From our combined 20+ years experience of teaching in schools we know that schools begin to ‘wind down’ during the last 6 weeks of term. Tests have been taken, reports have been written – there isn’t a great deal of rigorous new learning going on, possibly with the exception of Yr.10.
Children thrive on routine – that’s why the learning structure at School is a perfect environment for them. When this is largely removed for 6 weeks it is a huge effort for children to have to re learn the whole learning structure when they go back to school in September.
While we certainly aren’t encouraging you to torture your child with daily spelling tests and Maths drills all summer long taking a break from school shouldn’t mean taking a break from learning.