BLOG The summer slump meets back to school

Alyssa Pressler

Each summer, schools throughout the nation work to combat the summer learning gap, also referred to the summer slump. During the summer months kids often take a break from activities that involve skills learned in school, such as reading, doing math and creative problem solving.

Teacher Lisa Dehoff, left, asks students questions about what they are learning before giving them a rock candy pop as she reads, "The Bunyans" to students during ESL (English as a Second Language) summer camp at Dallastown Middle School in Dallastown, Thursday, June 23, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

According to the National Summer Learning Association, most students lose about two months of math skills and low-income students lose two or three months in reading. Oxford Learning estimates that six weeks at the beginning of each school year are spent refreshing material from the previous year to make up for these losses. They also state that two thirds of the income-based achievement gap is due to summer learning loss, reinforcing the claim that low-income students are the ones to suffer most from this phenomena.

Districts and communities in York County worked hard to combat the summer slump this year by providing plenty of activities for students to do during the summer months. For example, Martin Library partners with York City School District to do a summer reading program Monday through Thursday at different York City elementary schools.

The purpose of the program, according to Paula Gilbert, director of youth services at Martin Library, is to keep kids active, both physically and mentally. Each day the program would serve anywhere from 30 to 40 kids.

In Dallastown, approximately 35 students spent a week studying state parks in the district's ESL program to help students build on their English language skills and learn more about their local area. Meanwhile, both DreamWrights Center for Community Arts and the Belmont Theater held summer theater camps for kids. The camps aimed at teaching kids real life skills, like memorization, public speaking and overall confidence.

York's theaters teach kids life skills at camps

Parents and guardians are always encouraged to help fight the summer learning gap too. Reading with children for 20 minutes each night, encouraging them to get involved in extracurricular clubs and activities or even allowing them to play educationally based games on smartphones are all examples of things that can be done at home.

Just because the school year has started doesn't mean focus should shift from this, though! Keep kids smart by continuing to read with them and by enrolling them in some after-school activities like sports or academic clubs. Keep the learning going all year.