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Dyslexia Diagnosis

Summer Brain Drain–It’s Real!

Summer brain drain–it’s real–and for many years, educators have lamented about how much students seem to lose what they have learned in school over the summer–particularly if those students are struggling learners or have a learning disability. It takes about nine months of good instruction to get students where they need to be academically. Now imagine the loss of routine and repetition of concepts, and the good habits students have developed throughout the year slowly disappearing in a matter of a couple of months. It’s very frustrating.

According to experts at John Hopkins University, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Virginia, there are mixed results in terms of how students perform: some make gains over the summer but most don’t. Students who totally veg out and have fun during the summer lose about 2 1/2 months of learning loss.

  • Regardless of family income and educational levels, most students lose 2 1/2  months of math computational skills previously learned
  • Lower income students lose about 2-3 months of reading skills previously learned

Unfortunately, students don’t get up to speed until after the first 4 to 6 weeks of reteaching at the beginning of the school year. That may not seem like a lot, but that’s a month and a half of relearning concepts that have been previously mastered. Of course, learning is not necessarily linear–students often take a few steps back before making a giant leap. However, for students who have problems learning math and reading, any kind of regression takes them much longer to recover from than the average learner.

If your child has a learning disability or struggles with some subject areas, it is best to have a game plan. If your children have any kind of learning problems, seek out the help of a summer learning program or a qualified tutor (certified in the subject area).

In addition, there also other ways to prevent summer learning loss. For students who aren’t struggling in school, simply participating in free educational activities in your area can help. The Erie Public Library has free summer reading programs (check out their website), as well as Barnes and Noble

Other organizations such as the YMCA offer summer camps. These can be both enriching and a lot of fun. In addition, take advantage of any summer school programs your children’s school may offer. For older students, Penn State Behrend offers “College for Kids”–fun summer programs that keep the brain active while having fun. Most museums in the area are inexpensive and provide some enriching summer programs as well. The Planetarium at the Watson Curtze mansion has very reasonable rates and a variety of kid friendly shows. The Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC) has interesting displays and interactive activities as well as movies about nature. Picking strawberries, going on a pontoon boat ride at Presque Isle, or exploring trails in the area all fun ways to keep the body and mind active. 

As a parent, you can do fun and enriching activities at home. Learning can revolve around food, play, games, and good books. There are many books available through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and at the library that provide ideas for simple activities that are easy on the budget and high in enrichment. Notice I didn’t mention using workbooks. Those are a real snore and certainly NOT motivating … try to avoid them and look for interactive activities instead.

One of the best things you can do is limit the amount of time your children watch TV and play video games! There’s a whole world out there ready to explore.

Here are some resources worth checking out … I found them online at Barnes & Noble:


About Ann Gavazzi

Reading specialist and English teacher with a particular interest in treatment of dyslexia. Also interested in education and education policy at large and current reading research. Owner of the Reading Innovations Center, a tutoring center that specializes in one-to-one tutoring for struggling readers and math students.


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