It’s been a long, challenging school year, and kids are ready for a well-deserved break. But education experts are issuing a warning to parents.
“Children, in particular, need a break from the demands of formal schooling,” Matthew Boulay, founder and CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, told The Los Angeles Times. “No child, however, should take a break from learning.”
The challenge is making sure students retain a year’s worth of learning—this is a problem particularly for children in low-income families.
During summer breaks, the achievement gap tends to widen. Students in higher-income families typically improve their reading skills, while kids on the opposite end of the socio-economic scale could lose up to three months of reading skills during the break, The Times reported.
Des Moines, Iowa’s Merrill Middle School Vice Principal Diane Kehm told WHO-TV that parents must be an example to their children.
“Parents and guardians should be good models,” she said. “And if our students see their adults in their lives reading, they’re going to be more apt to pick up a book or read something other than social media on their phones, tablets or whatever other devices they’re using.”
She also recommended turning reading time into a daily routine. Kehm said as little as 15 to 20 minutes per day would suffice.
Literacy experts also suggest contacting local libraries, which typically have a range of summer reading programs for students at all grade levels.