Preventing brain drain over summer vacation


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – While summer break can be a time for fun, it can also be a time for learning loss, also known as the summer slide or brain drain. 

Students sometimes forget the information they picked up during the school year. But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing if students slide in the right direction.

Education experts with the Royce Learning Center in Savannah and the Superintendent of the Savannah-Chatham Public School System (SCCPSS) say students cannot only retain what they’ve learned, but they can also actually advance when school’s out if parents set them up for academic success.

Sally Greenberg, tutoring and summer program coordinator with the Royce Learning Center says the summer slide is not a myth.

“There can be a three-month loss — even more. So it is definitely an issue that parents need to look at,” Greenberg says.

There are a few areas parents can focus on to prevent the summer learning slide, regardless of where their child is in their public education careers.  

For early elementary school students, concentrate on reading skills, shifting to reading comprehension for older elementary students.

SCCPSS’ Dr. Ann Levett says setting aside time for daily reading sessions works wonders. 

“Proficiency depends on practice,” Levett said. “So indeed, not only playing the piano, but reading, practice, practice, practice — and there are great opportunities out there them to do that through, not only the school district and our reading list but also through the public libraries.

Greenberg agrees: “Either have your child read daily for twenty to thirty minutes and to read to your child and even read books that are more difficult than what they can read because that helps with vocabulary. That helps with listening comprehension. That helps with, just passage comprehension.  So, all those things. That’s important to do twelve months a year.”

In middle school, reading chapter books fights brain drain. Middle school is when subject-specific struggles emerge. The answer to fighting learning loss can lie with tutors.  

The same goes for high schoolers.

“If they have a math issue, then you just need to deal with the math,” Greenberg said. “If they have a writing issue, then you just need to deal with somebody who can help them with the writing.”

There is help available that will not break the bank when it comes to tutors and summer academic camps.

“We have gotten several grants, and so we will be able to give scholarships out, hopefully to the majority of people that are requesting them,” said Greenberg.  

Dr. Levett says it’s not too late to sign up for summer help for students. 

“The school district also offers a wide variety of summer camps that are affordable, interesting, and relevant for young people,” she said. “So we invite them to take advantage of those.”

Investing the time to fight brain drain can pay big academic dividends for students. Greenberg says they have seen measured success where the summer slide goes in a positive direction.

“Sometimes see six months, a year. We have even seen more than a year progress in just five weeks,” Greenberg said.

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