National Summer Learning Association and Sylvan Learning Offer Solution to Boosting Summer Reading: Let Children Choose the Books
Baltimore - As summer vacations begin across the nation, a new Sylvan Learning survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive among 1,190 youths ages 8-18 from March 14-21, highlights a key challenge in curbing the well-documented risks of summer learning loss in students. Less than half of American youths identify reading as a favorite summer activity. According to this survey, playing video games was identified most often as a favorite summer activity among boys (83%), while reading books ranked 6th with just over one-third (34%) saying this is a favorite thing to do in summer. In contrast, girls are almost twice as likely as boys to report that reading books is a favorite summer pastime (64%) and it ranks 3rd on their list.
For U.S. children overall, reading (49%) is less popular than watching movies or TV (75%), playing video games (68%), playing outside with friends (65%) or going to the pool (65%).
While kids are more likely to want to watch movies, TV, or play video games, a recent survey of 500 teachers conducted by the National Summer Learning Association indicates that almost 9 in 10 say summer learning is important to overall student success in school. 66 percent of the 500 teachers surveyed said it takes them at least 3-4 weeks to re-teach the previous year's skills at the beginning of a new school year. Moreover, 24 percent said it takes 5 weeks or more. Additionally, 77 percent of teachers agree students who have participated in summer learning programs are better prepared in the fall.
Research shows that a summer without learning opportunities presents a risk for kids, particularly for those from low-income families. Low-income youth also lose more than two months in reading achievement, while their middle-income peers make slight gains. These losses are cumulative and lead to a widening achievement gap, placement in less rigorous high school courses, higher high school dropout rates, and lower college attendance.
The good news, according to the Sylvan Learning survey, is that the vast majority of those youths - 94 percent - report that they like reading when they can choose the books themselves.
"When children lack opportunities for summer learning, the effects are extremely detrimental," said Gary Huggins, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association. "But parents and summer learning programs can prevent summer slide by providing engaging learning experiences and encouraging kids to read. Kids benefit most when they can choose books that match their interests and reading ability, which makes reading a fun activity."
To help kick-start summer reading, the National Summer Learning Association and Sylvan Learning have partnered to promote summer reading for all students and provide resources for parents, teachers, and students, including tips, free online materials, and family-friendly resources.
"The overwhelming majority of teachers agree that summer reading is key to overall academic success," said Dr. Rick Bavaria, senior vice president of education outreach for Sylvan Learning. "Summer does not have to be a time when children lose important reading skills. It is very important that we make it easy and convenient for children to access the kinds of books they want to read. To encourage students to begin their reading adventure this summer, we have assembled a recommended reading list with dozens of students' favorites, broken down by topic and age, on Sylvan's web site."
Parents and students looking to start their summer reading adventure can use these five simple reading tips in their everyday life -
For additional summer learning resources and Sylvan Learning's recommended reading lists, please visit the National Summer Learning Day Resources for Families and Sylvan's Blog.