Reading Can Help Indiana Kids Avoid “Summer Brain Drain”
Parents in Indiana and around the nation are encouraged to make sure their kids read during summer vacation to avoid what educators call “brain drain.”
Time away from the books can cause serious loss of academic skills, said Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana Teachers Association.
“If there isn’t some sort of opportunity in the summer, if you look at the cumulative effect of this,” she said, “students can lose - by the time they hit fifth grade - as much as two to two and a half years of really academic gain that they might have gotten during the school year - but then they’ve lost it. “
Meredith said teachers often have said that when school resumes, they spend a substantial amount of time reviewing and getting students reacquainted with material. She added that local libraries usually provide summer reading programs which can be hugely valuable for students.
Whether it’s a novel, a read-along book or even a comic book, Meredith said the point is to get them reading, period. She recommends that parents engage their children about what they are reading.
“Helping a child maybe practice a difficult passage, talk about it to make sure they really understand what they’ve read - anything that you do to encourage reading in the summertime really does make a difference,” she said. “It does have an impact to helping a child not just read more but read more fluently and comprehend more.”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 added that reading a lot can turn “brain drain” into “brain gain.”
“There’s also programs that can show gains, 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,” she said, “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 groups such as the Urban Libraries Council have programs aimed at providing more resources to all children.
The National Summer Learning Association website is summerlearning.org.
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