Summer Reading Can Help Overcome 'Learning Loss' When School's Out

Even though classes aren't in session, youngsters should continue to read books, stay active in the summer months.

The regular school year has ended for most Wisconsin students, but learning opportunities abound during summer vacation.

From the state Department of Public Instruction's Summer Library Reading Program to park and recreation events, camps and classes, and educational family vacations, there are many activities to occupy children in the summer. Keeping kids engaged and thinking during the long break from school is important because summer learning loss is a real phenomenon.

Some studies say the knowledge and skills children lose over a long school break accounts for half to two-thirds of the achievement gap between children from economically disadvantaged families and their non-disadvantaged peers.

Children who are too idle during the summer lose procedural and factual skills that can amount to two to three months of learning. The loss in mathematics, spelling, and reading skills can accumulate each year so that by the end of sixth grade, children who repeatedly experience summer learning loss can be as much as two years behind their classmates.

However, research also shows that children who attend high-quality summer school, participate in enrichment programs or read 10 or more books during the summer can maintain or improve their skills. Reading just four or five books over the summer can have a significant impact in stemming summer learning loss. That’s
vital to support our efforts to improve reading achievement across the state. Reading is the foundation for other academic learning.

Libraries across Wisconsin offer a wide range of materials to interest even a reluctant reader. Recreational reading — whether it’s joke books, mysteries, magazines, sports stories, or whatever children choose — helps young people become better readers because it develops vocabulary and builds reading speed and comprehension.

Those who read or stay involved through sports, museum visits, or other enrichment activities during the summer return to school ready for new lessons. So read a book. Visit a park. Enjoy our Wisconsin summer.

We’ll see you in September, ready to learn.

Tony Evers is the State Superintendent of Public Instruction


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