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The summer slide.

(10 Posts)
teyem Thu 09-May-19 14:37:49

I've been reading about learning loss over the summer holidays (fell into a Google rabbit hole) but most of the information I can find about it is specific to America. Apparently, we also have a summer slide but it is less marked as our holidays are shorter.

And that's about as far as I got. There's not much to say about if this is mostly a problem for younger children or if it's also a problem for teenagers. Is this something that is observable in our secondary schools? If it is, how long does it take teachers to get kids back up to speed again?

OP’s posts: |
Pipandmum Thu 09-May-19 20:49:35

I think within a couple weeks the kids are back into the routine and it’s all coming back to them. Not something I’d worry about.

happygardening Thu 09-May-19 21:28:36

My DS went to boarding school from an early age he used to get a glorious 9 weeks off over the summer and he never got any prep/homework. Throughout his school career he always did well in internal exam entrance exams IGCSEs and finally Pre Us (A Level equivalent) so the long holidays didn’t have any negative effect. In fact if anything I genuinely believe that it was very beneficial, time to just be a child/adolescent and enjoy life.

ksb76 Thu 09-May-19 22:14:09

From what I know (as a brit living in the US) and having volunteered in some v poor neighborhoods, the summer slide is most prevalent here in the USA as a result of the ridiculously long summer holidays (12 weeks). It occurs in less affluent areas as those in more affluent families then use the holidays to continue learning for their children but in different ways - taking them to the library, museums, summer camp, on holiday etc. So, while I have heard reports of teachers in the UK reporting similar observations in less advanged areas, the 6 week holidays allow less of a chance for it to affect children as much. I think that if you focus on encouraging them to read, and use the summer holidays to expand their horizons a little, then the summer slide won't be an issue. Most US research shows that in the poorest neighborhoods, the summer slide can cost a child about 8 weeks of learning each year compared with wealthier kids. Happens with all ages it appears in the US, resulting in kids that are entire grade levels behind by the end of school.

teyem Fri 10-May-19 11:05:21

There is a good chance I'm over-thinking this pip, I kind of arrived at it by accident rather than worrying about it. I think the reach from the USA, does show that the wealthiest children do make gains over the holidays happy, so that kind of fits (so long as I haven't made huge inaccurate assumptions of your income based on your access to boarding school).

That's really interesting ksb.

I wonder what the curve looks like between income and learning loss. If it's like the happiness curve, where when you hit a certain point (£50k) then the gains are minimal from that point on or if it's like the health curve, when even if you are in the top 80% income bracket you can still expect those in the 90% bracket to have a longer healthy-life age and longer life expectancy?

Because I suppose a lot of learning loss must be attributable to hunger poverty for the poorest. Also, access to books and trips to culturally worthy activities requires engaged and motivated parents.

Once you are able to comfortably meet your kid's needs and provide these resources, have you jumped the gap? Or are you still lagging behind the wealthy? And, if so, what are they doing that's different?

OP’s posts: |
happygardening Fri 10-May-19 17:55:04

"Or are you still lagging behind the wealthy? And, if so, what are they doing that's different?"
How do you define wealthy? 500K a year, a million, Sunday Time Rich Lister?
Nearly all boarding schools have long holidays and especially over the summer where 9 weeks is the norm and I doubt would do it if they felt it was detrimental to their pupils education. So by wealthy are you saying someone who can afford boarding fees?
I don't think we did anything drastically different although I did take the view that no school work/school type learning should be done during the long summer holidays this is not an uncommon view amongst boarding parents, maybe that's the key grin.

ksb76 Fri 10-May-19 18:22:45

Tends to be in the US that in families with v low incomes that there are a whole host of reasons that the extension activities that could help kids don't happen over the summer hols - cost - not just of the actual activity (entrance to the Museum of Fine Arts here costs $25 each) but of transportation etc, time (often working two jobs), so no chance to be able to fit in extra kid things, lack of vacation time from work if you do have a reasonable job (standard, if you are lucky is 10 days paid), and the basic issue which is that if you come from a background where parents education has been limited, they are in a worse position to help and push with their own kids.

I think from observations that there is definitely a certain income point at which all of those stop being such an issue particularly for the basic educational attainment, but there will always be some factor whereby having more available income will allow kids to have additional 'experiences' whether it be travel, summer camps, that will inevitably give them some kind of leg up as they progress through school / Uni.

A friend's child is just about to head to the North East (US) for a 2 week journalism camp based at a prestigious university that they have attended before. Certainly not cheap and while it may not get the child a better grade at the end of the day, it has certainly given them an experience that not many others will have had.

If you are a parent though that has the time and mental capacity to be aware of the issue and contemplate the effects for your own child I would say that you are probably not in the demographic that teachers are concerned about. Just do what you normally do over the summer.

Apileofballyhoo Fri 10-May-19 18:27:46

Irish schools have 3 months summer holidays at secondary school and 2 for primary school.

I don't know if it's considered a problem here.

teyem Fri 10-May-19 23:00:19

I expect there are some exceptions, children with scholarships and those attending state boarding school but I'll go out on a limb and say that those who can afford send their kids to boarding school meet my idea of wealthy happy.

I'd very much like the secret solution to be do nothing at all but I suspect that it might just mean that the advantages are more elusive and not something that can be hacked with a "read x amount of books and download this app" solution.

I don't think we are in the category that teachers are concerned about either ksb. It was just part curiosity, part Machiavellian strategising grin.

OP’s posts: |
happygardening Sat 11-May-19 08:21:13

"I'd very much like the secret solution to be do nothing at all"
I actually think doing nothing is very beneficial to learning, I believe the brains of children (and adults) need time to consolidate learning and that time doing nothing enables this. A few years ago I had a 8 weeks of sick (I wasn't unwell for most of it just recovering from surgery and couldn't drive so as I live in an area without transport opportunities to do interesting things were limited) I didnt forget how to do my job but thoroughly enjoyed stepping off the treadmill of getting up battling my way through traffic sitting in meetings the paper work the day to day routine etc I came back much more enthusiastic with new ideas and Id also made a. decision about my career without actually thinking about it. I used to be very involved with horses and its very common to chuck a stale horse struggling to learn something out into a field for a few months hoping they'll come back improved and in many many cases they do. Im not saying a human and horse brain are the same but I do think think that school life (and work life) is often intense, learning is often so packed (and in many cases extra curricular stiff or less academic stuff is being driven out of the curriculum) and expectations of both academic performance and general behaviour are very high (in both sectors) that a long period of rest and hopefully fun is very important and helpful.

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