Support involvement and learning all summer long

The arrival of summer is always exciting for students and staff. But how should students spend their vacations? Could summer plans significantly affect future learning? Yes, say researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. And parent involvement is part of the equation.

In “Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap,” an article in American Sociological Review, sociologists looked at students’ achievement from first grade to age 22, and they found a connection between summer vacation experiences and academic success. Learning-rich summer environments (often provided in higher-income families) have benefits, the research shows. Over time, these benefits—or the lack of them—affect chances of dropout and college preparation.

Helping students over the summer is key, says lead author Karl Alexander. He lists simple steps that make an educational difference, such as keeping reading materials handy, visiting libraries and museums, and playing organized sports.

It’s important for schools to encourage these at-home practices. But what if parents can’t or won’t implement them? Consider alternatives, such as summer school programs. Research confirms that early learning is critical, including during the summer. For maximum student achievement, summer vacation must not be a vacation from learning.

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