– Teachers need to re-teach material in the fall that their students knew in June.
– Students score lower on standardized tests taken at the end of summer vacation than they do at the start of summer.
This has lead to a push for summer learning programs and enrichment programs with “academic rigor” to curb the inevitable slide.
Maybe it’s time for a reality check and some thoughts about how children and teens develop and what kinds of things promote the full development of a person. Despite the “summer slide,” students do learn as school progresses and every parent and teacher recognizes that 2nd graders know more than 1st graders, 7th more than 6th, 10th more than 9th. So children are learning an impressive amount of information in school.
What concerns me is the focus on school skills as the gold standard for measuring development and mental growth. (And remember, I’m an academic — I value school!) Our children are already over-scheduled, more stressed than previous generations of children, and are pushed to excel at school and all kinds of extra-curricular activities.
What our children don’t have enough of is open unscheduled time. Time to play, be adventurous, and experiment without being evaluated. Time to invent things to do when there’s “nothing to do.” Time to invent games and play activities with friends without a lot of adult intervention. General intelligence develops from trying things out, discovering, and playing. Playing with friends, playing with stuff. Social and emotional intelligence develop through interacting with others and finding out with peers how to collaborate, solve problems, lead wisely, follow skillfully, share, care, empathize.
Instead of worrying so much about summer slippage of academic skills, it would be brilliant if we appreciated how summer can stimulate other important kinds of development.
~ Anne Dunlea ~
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