63 days. That’s how long students in Fayetteville’s Public School District get for summer break.
That’s a little more than two months of their math and reading skills not being put to the test.
“As a parent myself, I can tell you that’s the first question that you ask is ‘what are we going to do now that school is out?” Keith Peterson, the Dean of Workforce and Economic Development at the Northwest Arkansas Community College, said.
“We’re in a great community and there are a lot of people who want to see kids thrive year round.” Misty Newcomb, Executive Director of Prism Education Center said.
“Between the end of one school year and the start of the next, every student is at risk for summer learning loss. This year, educators and organizations all across Northwest Arkansas are trying to combat the issue.”
According to Heather Kindall, an Assistant University of Arkansas Elementary Childhood Education professor, summer reading and math loss occurs for a variety of different reasons.
“Socioeconomic status, exposure to materials, lack of reading materials in the home during the summer.” Kindall said.
The younger the student the more prone they are to summer regression.
“There is a consistent loss especially in grades Kindergarden through 4th grade that’s been observed and that is understood by the academic community as really generating some significant gaps in achievement.” Misty Newcomb, the Executive Director of Prism Education Center, said.
Places like Prism Education Center, Northwest Arkansas Community College, and the University of Arkansas dedicate time every year to try and combat the issue.
“One of the biggest motivations for us creating that literacy camp was to address this summer reading loss. So we have a two week intensive camp with our graduate students where they tutor students one on one and it happens right before the new school year starts.” Heather Kindall, Assistant Professor for Elementary Childhood Education at the U of A, said.
Summer regression is an issue educators have to face every year, but it’s an issue they say could avoided with the help of parents.
“What will really help your child is if you cook with them talk about the fractions they’re using. Help them apply the math they learned during the school year. And of course reading, reading, reading.” Newcomb said.
“There’s really all kinds of activities you can just incorporate math and reading into those activities. Whether that is planning your trip to the grocery store and looking at your budget through that.” Darla Gardener, the Principal of the Arkansas Connections Academy, said.
The Prism Education Center and NWACC says their summer programs are designed to prevent summer regression while being fun at the same time.
“Our summer math program is designed to be a little bit more active so if you’re answering math problems then you get to shoot hoops afterwards.” Newcomb said.
“We try to couple having fun with some sort of educational stimulus. I’l use lego robotics as an example of a highly attended very popular kids camp offering but also has a very serious STEM component to it.” Keith Peterson, the Dean of Workforce and Economic Development of NWACC, said.
Affordability for summer camps can be an issue for some but it’s something the director of the Prism Education Center says no parent should have to worry about.
“We’re making our summer programs accessible to anyone who wants to come. Call the summer camps that you’re interested in, ask if they have scholarships available and just know that there are options out there.” Newcomb said.
All in all, Northwest Arkansas educators say don’t let your child’s regression hinder another student’s progression.
“Teachers often know that we have to spend the first month and sometimes even though first quarter of the school year helping kids build back up that information base.” Newcomb said.