There are foundational gaps correlated to the US academic summer calendar and amount of time children are away from organized intellectual stimulation. With his teaching, coaching and camp director experience, Aaron Dungca wants to share his educational perspective for all.
April 4, 2019: Families across the US are faced with a problem of education gap with their children that is non-discriminatory and inevitable with trends pointing to higher occurrences. According to a recent study by NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) rates in children who experienced repetitive summer learning loss are behind 2 academic years on average compared to their peers by sixth grade. It then takes up to two months after the first day of school to achieve the same level of brain development.
The education gap occurs in all families and does not typically mean lower income families are always most affected. Current research gathered evidence during the 36 weeks students are in school and have concrete evidence of RIT(Rasch Unit Scale) showing on average students gain 13+ points during the year and lose 3–5 points during the summer months.
This lag of education is not a fault from schools but a lack of understanding or focus by most populations during the ease of summer vacation. Schools attempt to balance family vacation time through a minimal summer reading plan. This strategy is to apply a maintenance plan on reading skills children possess before leaving school for 8 weeks. However, reading alone does not address the holistic make up of a child. Stimulation in math concepts, social-emotional learning, physical activity and natural curiosity still need to be satisfied and nourished in order to fully support the growing spirit, mind and body of a child.
Addressing the decline of academic stimulation for a child can take on many shapes and sizes. Examples like visiting the local library and participating in book events, creating posters, advertisements or public service announcements requiring accurate spelling and images, comic book stories, and nightly story time. Such activities can be done immediately, continuously and act as a fun activity (pending the provider has much energy and excitement presenting the stimulus!)
Summer learning loss fortunately is well known among educators and youth development professionals. Many educators take on a second role within summer camp organizations or enrichment programs. Organizations and programs have much to offer and varies in costs and services. If a camp or enrichment program is a choice families would like to make for their child, some points of interest that provide credibility and trust should be present within the organization. These points of interest address safety, curriculum, and cost. A great way to find credible camps have accreditation from the American Camp Association. Accreditation is a comprehensive process in which demonstrates the compliance of a camp towards mandatory standards that spans nationwide and differs from licensing, which is state to state. Finding summer camps under this criteria is an increased credibility and security. According to a five year camp impact study, the American Camp Association show findings that children are able to learn transferable skills such as problem solving, effective communication, relationship building, and delayed gratification. These skills show tremendous impact in the life of a child outside and inside of the academic year. They promote social and situational diversities that allow for a child to be successful under daily or acute life stressors.
These acquisitions of skills have connections in decreasing the learning gap, promote positive brain development and developmental social-emotional intelligence. The benefits for a child attending summer camps, creative programs, and movement activities is an investment that would prove to have a return on investment worthy for long term contributions.
About Aaron Dungca
Aaron Dungca, a former wellness teacher, coach, and camp manager with 8 years experience combating summer learning loss and building social-emotional intelligence in children. According to his experiences, children need more impactful opportunities that compete with the technological readiness of smart devices. Museums, libraries, parks, camps, and family togetherness are some of the stages children can obtain high potency content outside of social media platforms with credibility and at low to no cost.