Why Summer Learning Matters
As we approach the end of the summer and the conclusion of Kindergarten Countdown Camp, it’s important to recognize the importance of summer learning and the impact it has on children.
Over the course of the summer, idle, low-income students lose two to three months’ worth of reading skills while non-low-income students improve these skills. Without access to summer learning programs, the chance of low-income students recovering from this disparity is minimal. The National Summer Learning Association describes this trend: “Summer learning loss, the phenomenon where young people lose academic skills over the summer, is one of the most significant causes of the achievement gap between lower and higher income youth and one of the strongest contributors to the high school dropout rate. For many young people, the summer ‘opportunity gap’ contributes to gaps in achievement, employment and college and career success” (“Home”).
So is access to books the answer to reading readiness? The answer is actually no. As we discuss summer programs that improve reading skills and prevent academic loss, it is important to note that there is still the obstacle of encouraging children to read the books. James Kim, assistant professor of education at Harvard University, conducted a study that shows the difference maker in achievement for both younger and older children was having adults who were involved in teaching reading skills and guiding reading understanding, that reading alone did not completely combat summer learning loss (Kim).
At United Way, our Kindergarten Countdown Camp (KCC) is designed to bridge the gap for Lake County’s youngest learners. KCC is a summer program taught by licensed teachers and is targeted towards children entering kindergarten with little to no preschool experience. This free program helps to ease the gap between academic readiness for low-income students and non-low-income students over the summer. This summer, KCC took place in Waukegan and will start in Beach Park on August 14th.
Additionally, thanks to the support of our donors, several opportunities were offered to at-risk children this summer:
- North Chicago children and their families attended summer Better Together sessions to continue their learning for future school success.
- 52 summer learning packets were given to the students that took part in our Early Reading Success Initiative in two kindergarten classrooms in Waukegan.
- There are 18 Early Learning Trails around the community for children to learn and play thanks to the volunteer efforts of our corporate partners.
Preventing summer learning loss is a considerable factor in ensuring all Lake County children are on a pathway to succeed in the future. Maintaining grade-level reading and preserving math lessons learned during the school year is crucial to their future achievement.
- “Home.” National Summer Learning Association, www.summerlearning.org/?page=know_the_facts.
- Kim, James. “How to Make Summer Reading Effective.” summerlearning.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/HowToMakeSummerReadingEffective.pdf.