Updated: Feb 6
As we end the current school year, like every year, we find ourselves waving good bye to quite a few students for the summer. Understanding the need for rest and relaxation, we aren’t surprised. But, as many parents contemplate whether or not this is a good idea, I am often asked, “Should we take a break over the summer?” The answer is a resounding NO!!!
The reasons are simple and clear:
Work ethic is lost.
Finally, students have become used to being academically challenged. They have spent a whole year doing homework, practicing for tests, and using their brains to get them through the day. All of a sudden, they are just allowed to stop being academically stimulated. During the summer, the little brain exercise they could get is suspended. This is very detrimental to a child especially if the child already struggles with school. They have built this tolerance to doing school work, but after the summer, the tolerance is lost and they become lazy towards their learning all over again.
Children simply forget.
If you have children, or know any children, one thing most parents understand about kids is that they forget. They can remember the latest song lyrics, or the characters of their favorite TV show, but if you ask them to find the volume of a cylinder, or recite their multiplication tables, they have a problem. I love my son to no end, but I also know that most of the time, he can’t remember anything more than a minute past his own face. Now, give him a month or two. The concept is long gone. If your child is not like this, consider yourself lucky. Your child probably doesn’t need tutoring.
If they are already behind, you are losing the chance to catch up.
Parents often hire a tutor to get them caught up to the skill level they are supposed to be. If a child is still behind by the time summer hits, wouldn’t it be a good idea to keep them engrossed during the summer and possibly get them where they need to be before the next year? During summer, they have no other distractions, and they can focus on one thing catching up. A worse scenario is to start the next year still behind and have the teachers pull the class ahead, leaving the student behind in the process. At that point, the child is back where they started, but they could have avoided this if they took the chance to catch up or even get ahead during the summer.
America is falling behind.
In the current global economy, many of the available jobs that are open are high-skilled, high-intellect jobs. Americans are losing out to other countries in these jobs because the other countries are out-performing us academically. If you take a look at some of these countries like Singapore and Finland, there is no such thing as summer break. Their students are used to rigorous academic study because they are conditioned to be students all year round. This also means that they are used to working all year round, kind of like the way they will have to work as adults. We have to start reconditioning the mental work ethic of our children, or we will continue to fall further behind in the rankings. Just watch “Waiting for Superman” from director Davis Guggenheim, a documentary that gives some startling information about the state of education in America. It was unsettling. A solution presented among others in the movie is that our students need to be going to school for a longer time during the year, not taking two-month breaks. Many schools are doing this and are creating excellent results.
The best way to keep a child’s intellectual stamina up and to increase their learning retention is to keep them learning. If you have hired a tutor you are pleased with I recommend you keep them in tutoring to protect your investment. Otherwise you may be starting from scratch when they come back.
Please check out this article from the National Summer Learning Association for some of the research on Summer Learning Loss. Remember that the children need all we can give them before it is too late. Extra tutoring can only help them, not hurt them. More education will build them more opportunity.
– Jamal L. Burt