Summer learning loss is a condition that nearly all school-aged children suffer.
In short, it’s exactly what it sounds like: children who are inactive during the summer months, both physically and mentally, are less likely to retain information they’ve just learned during the school year.
A recent study by John Hopkins University found that summer learning loss can actually contribute to whether or not a child graduates or drops out from high school.
Laura Isensee with Houston’s Here and Now recently visited a music summer camp in Houston, reporting on how students use computer code to program their own music.
Like this summer camp, the directors and staff at Shaffer’s High Sierra Camp understand the fundamental component of making concepts “stick” with kids: allowing them to be critical, creative, and adventurous with hands-on activity. Active learning is a crucial component in motivating students to learn new concepts, while engaging the body.
“Fun is a big part of this camp…It’s a way to keep kids learning over summer so they don’t fall behind in school,” Isensee reports. Angelina, an up-and-coming fifth grader says she would be “at home on [her] laptop” if she weren’t at music camp.
This isn’t an unfamiliar phrase to hear from modern youth — we know the pervasiveness of technology in their everyday lives. Even though the music camp uses computers for programming, it’s using them so students are actively learning instead of being passively entertained. Additionally, outdoor summer camps like Shaffer’s that are tech-free provide a double benefit: pulling kids away from the dull glow of their screens and actively engaging their mind and body in new skills and concepts.
Evidence of the effects of summer learning loss is unfortunately still prevalent, even at the college level. As a Master’s student and freshmen college English teacher, I have observed the gap between students who have access and those who do not have access to these types of summer programs or things like it, such as post-high school studies abroad or field internships.
Students with some access place into the “higher” classes and tend to perform better on their writing portfolios.
That’s where the good news comes in: about 10% of public school children attend school-sponsored programs over the summer. The number of these public programs has doubled in the past 25 years.
The American Camp Association estimates that more than 11 million children attend private summer camps each year. 65-77% of camp directors report the same or better enrollment each year since 2008, which means that enrollment has been slowly but surely increasing. The number of camps increases as parents, educators, and even politicians like Secretary of Education Duncan, realize the need for summer programs that engage young minds and bodies.
Find out more about how YOU can challenge your child during the summer months by enrolling them at Shaffer’s High Sierra Camp.