The typical American student enjoys a 3-month break from school for summer vacation, providing well-deserved rest from the rigors of academia. But studies suggest the summer fun may also come at a price.
According to a 2011 study by researchers at the RAND Corporation called “Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning,” summer break – albeit necessary and beneficial in many aspects – could potentially set some students back two to three full months of grade-level equivalency if not supplemented with additional summer learning support.
The RAND study also indicates that the summer slide is more pronounced in mathematics, a subject in which learning decay occurs more rapidly over summer vacation simply because of math inactivity. Students may read over summer vacation, but few practice their math skills.
Summer Slide & The Math Achievement Gap
Children from low-income households feel the summer slide more than anyone due to unequal access to summer learning programs and various other socioeconomic factors.
Unfortunately, the math achievement gap between low-income and high-income students widens over time, almost entirely during the summer break. The end result: lower-income students fall further behind their more affluent peers, a trend that is compounded at each grade level until the achievement gap is overwhelming. On average, low-income students fall behind 2.5 to 3 full years by fifth grade.
Learning should be a continual process. In order to achieve the best results and minimize the summer slide, it will take a combined effort of educators, parents, and students. Without access to summer learning programs, many students are left on their own.
So, what is the best summer slide prevention?
Math students without access to summer learning programs can still effectively reduce the summer slide by using online math programs, particularly one with on-demand support from live math teachers.
Access to 1-on-1 instructional support is a vital component to every student’s development in mathematics. This type of student-instructor interaction is typically lost over the summer months, even during summer learning programs (if available) due to limited resources.
With web-based math instruction, students can utilize these programs as remedial tools, brushing up on last year’s lessons or getting a jump start on next year’s material, all on their own time. Internet access is all that’s needed for a math student to be completely immersed in a mobile learning environment, perfect for family road trips, long plane rides, or to mitigate rainy-day boredom over summer break.
By providing students with unlimited access to grade level math instruction at their convenience, online math instructional tools place the power of reducing the summer learning slide quite literally into the hands of the student.