To have them study or take a break? That’s the big question on many parents’ minds as summer vacation inches its way here. The answer actually lies somewhere in between.
If you’re a kid in school, you probably don’t think you need more study time this summer. Sunshine and fun is all that’s needed. Your break can be a great time to relax, grow and process what’s been learned in school all year. It’s a chance to do whatever it is that you really want.
If you’re a parent or educator who’s worried about your child’s academic performance though, the chance to hit the books might look like a good one. Some think that the long break is overrated.
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According to a recent article in Canada’s Globe and Mail, even experts like Charles Pascal, a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, think that too much unstructured free time isn’t such a good thing.
“Active kids in the summer, whether in sports or other play activities or a volunteer situation… are kids that are continuing to learn,” Pascal said in an interview with the Globe.
“Summer learning camps focused on various interests – math, circus skills, basketball – are more and more popular, and they need to be made accessible regardless of income.”
Is it really worth the money, though? Do kids get that much out of studying in August? A recent study says that while some do, others do not.
It turns out that how much your child benefits from extra academic learning during the summer could depend on your socioeconomic situation.
A recent study from MIT has shown that kids from families with a certain socioeconomic status benefit more from structured summer learning than others.
Using MRI scans to analyze kids’ brains and common tests to evaluate their skills, researchers looked at the benefits of a summer reading program for kids aged 6 to 9 years old with dyslexia.
The study had kids focus on reading strategies for four hours a day, five days a week for 6 weeks. And it showed some surprising results.
Children growing up in families with a lower socioeconomic status benefited more and responded much more readily to the program than kids with the same reading problems, but from a higher socioeconomic background. The scientists involved in the study said they didn’t know why this was the case.
Some guessed that the program might have been more beneficial for kids who didn’t usually get much reading help from family, in general. The experience was “out of the realm of their typical summer,” and because of this, the kids grabbed onto it. But that was generally a guess.
The Right Choice
So, what’s the takeaway? Go get a lesser paying job so your kid will be a better reader in a July study program?
Every family situation is unique. You know your child best. You might know they’ve been working hard all year long and really merit the break. And who knows, maybe they’re going to end up a baseball player anyways, and some free time at the diamond with their friends is what they really need.
On the other hand, maybe you feel they’ve been coasting along. Maybe your child could use some constant refreshers. Perhaps you don’t have the time to provide them on your own, and being in an academic program for part of the summer could be of real benefit.
Talk to yourself, your child, your partner and your child’s teachers. Like most of parenting, you need to take the decision for yourself. Decide on your own what’s the best solution, and go for it-it’s probably a good one.
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