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Brain Drain Can Impact Children in New Mexico

PHOTO: Reading during summer vacation is critical for students to maintain their academic skills and avoid what educators call summer brain drain. Photo credit Oregon Health Authority.
PHOTO: Reading during summer vacation is critical for students to maintain their academic skills and avoid what educators call summer brain drain. Photo credit Oregon Health Authority.
June 15, 2015

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Parents in New Mexico and around the nation are encouraged to make sure their children read during summer vacation to avoid what educators call brain drain.

Time away from books can cause serious loss of academic skills, said Catherine Christmann, manager of the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library in Las Cruces.

"All the studies show that if you don't practice reading during the summer, you lose some of your ability and have to start over again in the fall," she said.

According to educators, brain drain can affect some students to the point that they won't catch up academically during the next school year. Christmann said local libraries usually provide summer reading programs that can be hugely valuable for students.

Katie Willse, chief program officer for the National Summer Learning Association, said research shows that children who are interested in what they're reading benefit the most. She said reading a lot can turn brain drain into brain gain.

"There's also programs that can show gains," she said, "that can show that 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, and actually set kids ahead from where they were when they ended the school year."

Willse said 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 added that the Urban Libraries Council and other groups have programs aimed at providing more resources to all children.

More information is online from the Arizona Library Association at azla.org and the National Summer Learning Association at summerlearning.org.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM