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Utah Students May Suffer from Summer "Brain Drain"

PHOTO: Reading during summer vacation is critical for students to maintain their academic skills and avoid what educators call summer brain drain. Photo credit U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
PHOTO: Reading during summer vacation is critical for students to maintain their academic skills and avoid what educators call summer brain drain. Photo credit U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
June 8, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY – Parents in Utah and around the nation are encouraged to make sure their children read during summer vacation to avoid what educators call "brain drain."

Dustin Fife, president of the Utah Library Association, says time away from studies can cause serious loss of academic skills.

"It's like any skill if we stop practicing even for a short time, whether it's our reading, our math or anything else," he says. "We still have this as adults, as we let things languish we tend to have to start over."

Educators say brain drain can affect some students to the point that they won't catch up academically during the next school year. Fife adds that local libraries usually provide summer reading programs that can provide immense value for students.

Katie Willse, chief program officer with the National Summer Learning Association, says research shows children who are interested in what they're reading benefit the most. She adds that frequent reading can turn "brain drain" into "brain gain."

"There's also programs that can show gains, that can show they're not only stemming those losses but they're leading, two, three, four, five months in some cases of reading gains over the summer," she says. "It actually set kids ahead from where they were when they ended the school year."

Willse says research shows that children in low-income families have higher rates of diminished reading skills during the summer, because they lack access to libraries and other sources for books. She adds that groups such as the Urban Libraries Council have programs aimed at providing more resources to all children.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT