The official start of the summer is today, and so is the “learning is finished” mentality students quickly adopt until the start of the next school year. With that mentality students easily forget what they learned over the past year, and as a result have to spend the beginning of the new school year reviewing stuff they already learned.
Silvan Learning says, "While a break from school is great for recharging your children's batteries, if students aren't using the skills they acquired in the classroom, they could find themselves lagging behind once the school bell rings again." As a student, I know I this is very true, especially for subjects like math. Math is one of those classes that most students dread and many teachers find themselves reviewing last year's math in order to make sure that the students are able to perform this year's math at their best.
The good news is that there are ways to overcome the “learning is finished” mentality. Take the NECAP Boot Camp, for example. This summer my high school is offering this program to prepare students for the next NECAP testing period with test-taking strategies to help keep their minds learning-oriented throughout the summer. My college advisor has also been offering SAT prep classes for students who want to extra practice and preparation for what is probably the most important test they will take in their high school career.
Although summer jobs are important for students to learn responsibility, it should not be an excuse to avoid learning and preparing for the next state of the high school experience. But even students who want or need to work over the summer can find learning options with flexible times, such as College Board's SAT Online Practice Test.
One of the biggest challenges, of course, in combating the “learning is finished” mentality is making sure students know about these options. Many public schools offer some opportunities to continue learning in the summer months and we should continue to push for policies that promote these programs. This could include summer learning programs, free tutoring within schools throughout the summer, and“classwork” throughout the summer to keep students' minds fresh.
Just because school is finished for the year doesn’t mean that learning should be finished, too.
Rafael Torres is a RI-CAN School Reform Blogging Fellow.