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Summer Learning Prevents Summer "Brain Drain"

PHOTO: Hundreds of youth advocates and students from across California will rally, learn how to advocate on their own behalf and fan out across the state Capitol to urge lawmakers to support high-quality summer learning programs and increased funding for year-round learning at the May 12-13 "California Afterschool and Summer Challenge." Photo Courtesy of Partnership for Children & Youth
PHOTO: Hundreds of youth advocates and students from across California will rally, learn how to advocate on their own behalf and fan out across the state Capitol to urge lawmakers to support high-quality summer learning programs and increased funding for year-round learning at the May 12-13 "California Afterschool and Summer Challenge." Photo Courtesy of Partnership for Children & Youth
May 12, 2014

Summer vacation is rapidly approaching for many California school kids, but that does not mean the learning has to stop. Experts say it is important that children continue to learn, in order to avoid the summer "brain drain."

"We know now, through a great deal of research, about a phenomenon called "summer learning loss" where low-income children, in particular, lose a lot of ground academically in the summer. It's a huge factor in the achievement gap," says Jennifer Peck, executive director, Partnership for Children & Youth and chair of the Summer Matters Campaign.

Peck also says summer-learning loss is cumulative: Each summer that a child experiences these losses, he or she falls farther and farther behind and can never catch up. Today and tomorrow, hundreds of youth advocates and students from across the state are at the Capitol to urge lawmakers to increase funding for year-round learning.

Research shows while traditional "summer school" programs actually can feel like punishment, summer learning programs that are designed to be engaging and fun can make an enormous difference. Peck says many programs available feel like summer camp, but actually involve very intentional learning activities.

"There are a lot of creative and fun things that you can do with reading and with math and science over the summer that don't have to be boring. They don't have to be sitting at desks," Peck adds.

Advocates also are urging lawmakers to support SB 1221, which would increase funding for summer learning programs.

"This bill would make some changes in how California is allocating its after-summer program dollars, so that we're putting more money into summer programing," she says. "It's one of the very few ways we can get more summer programs to kids in California."

More information is available at www.summermatters2you.net.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA