How You Spend Your Summer Matters
1. How do you spend your summer vacations? Do you attend summer camp or catch up on pleasure reading, or do you just play video games? What you do with your free time is up to you (and your parents), but your summer choices can have a big impact on your grades during the school year. The more active your brain is in July, the more you remember what you learned in January when September rolls around. Some people say that summer breaks are harmful to the learning process, and they want to reduce–or even eliminate–the time that students take off at the end of the school year. However, getting rid of summer vacation altogether is impractical and ineffective. The important thing is that students make the best possible use of their time away from class.
2. That’s not to say that summer learning loss is not a real problem. Researchers have found that students forget as much as 25-30 percent over the summer of what they learned over the course of the previous year. Worse, kids from poorer families lose more learning than their wealthier classmates. That’s because low-income parents have trouble paying for learning opportunities during the summer months. In fact, a 2007 study in Baltimore, Maryland revealed that summer vacations accounted for 67% of the troubling differences in grades between rich and poor students.
3. Statistics like that lead some to ask, “Why should schools take long breaks just because that’s what they’ve always done? Why not get rid of summer vacation altogether?” They point to the superb test scores achieved by students in South Korea. Summer breaks in that country are only three weeks long. On the other hand, South Korean youngsters report a high rate of mental health problems due to the pressures of year-round studies. It’s healthy for kids to take time off. Teachers, too, experience less burnout in schools that offer significant vacation time.
4. Another solution for summer learning loss is to spread vacation time throughout the school year. It is an increasingly popular option in the US, where 3,700 schools (about 4% of all learning institutions) have adopted a so-called “balanced calendar”. These schools offer numerous one- or two-week breaks instead of one long three-month vacation. They boast of much-improved September test scores. Schooling expert Paul von Hippel says that those improvements do not last throughout the year. The two-week breaks create just as much learning loss as summer vacations. “Since total instruction [time] doesn’t increase,” he told the PBS Newshour, “total learning doesn’t increase either.”
5. In the end, how much time students have away from school during the summer matters less than how they spend that time. Von Hippel argues that schools should offer assistance to struggling pupils during vacation time. The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) recommends that governments and charities make summer courses available to kids of all economic backgrounds. These courses should focus on skills that are not taught during the regular year. “We need more learning but not necessarily more schooling,” said NSLA’s Matthew Boulay (The Economist, 2018). Summer camps, trips abroad, and reading programs all help reduce summer learning loss. However, much depends on you. If you spend your summer playing video games, you are not going to remember much n the fall.
To support the author’s view, why is the 2007 study in paragraph 2 cited?
- to show that students forget much of what they’ve learned during the summer monthsto show that students forget much of what they’ve learned during the summer months
- to show that low-income students would do better in school if not for summer vacationsto show that low-income students would do better in school if not for summer vacations
- to show that students should develop new skills during their lengthy summer breaksto show that students should develop new skills during their lengthy summer breaks
- to show that high-income students can afford to pay for summer learning opportunities