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As Students End School Year, Boys & Girls Clubs Offers Way to Fight “Summer Brain Drain" | Families

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As Students End School Year, Boys & Girls Clubs Offers Way to Fight “Summer Brain Drain"
Families, Moms, Schools

ATLANTA -- This month, millions of kids begin their summer breaks, looking forward to vacations, pool time and carefree days. But studies and experience show a lack of mental stimulation causes them to unlearn much of what they were taught over the school year.  Boys & Girls Clubs across the country offer young people a safe, exciting place to spend their summer months, with staff and resources to fight the effects of this “Summer Brain Drain.”

The reality for today’s kids is that many will find themselves with few structured activities, caregivers who are working all day, and too much unsupervised television, video game and computer time.

President Touts Concerns Over Summer Learning

Also known as “summer learning loss” or the “summer slide,” this issue is a growing problem for American children.  In 2010, President Obama noted, “Students are losing a lot of what they learn during the school year during the summer.”

“Summer Brain Drain is a seasonal issue that causes millions of young people to lose months of accumulated knowledge,” says Erica Stevens, director, education programs, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  “While the months without daily lessons are part of the problem, another cause is that many young people are left alone for much of the summer, with little or no direction to channel their time and energies. It’s vital to find creative ways to combat that learning loss.”

By the Numbers: Affect on Low-Income Households

Summer Brain Drain hits particularly hard among young people from low-income households or those in which both parents work. For them, it only exacerbates their challenges and frustrations.

Faced with difficult home and economic situations, many young people are likely to accept lower standards of academic achievement, lessening their aspirations for higher education. But summer learning loss can strike kids from any demographic:

  • More than 15 million U.S. children are alone and unsupervised after school throughout the year, and those numbers jump over the summer.2
  • When students report to school in the fall, they perform on average one month behind where they left off in the spring; the effect is more pronounced for the most at-risk students, who may lose several months.1
  • Summer learning loss is cumulative, with the effects growing worse each year the child is in school. 1
  • Low-income students are affected disproportionately; summer learning loss contributes substantially to the achievement gap.1

Benefits of Quality Summer Learning Programs

  • Summer learning programs have been shown to raise math and reading performance, improve attendance, reduce dropout rates, decrease involvement in crime, improve behavior at school and heighten interest in learning.
  • Studies show that the positive effects of summer learning programs endure for at least two years. 
  • Summer learning programs increase parental involvement, which is critical to a child’s overall academic success.

“Parents and caregivers can stop or slow this learning loss with a positive summer learning program,” said Stevens.  “Many school districts are cutting summer learning due to tight budgets, but there is much that parents can do and partnerships between school districts and community-based organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs can provide excellent resources.”

Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Summer Programs

Parents and students can take advantage of summer programs at Boys & Girls Clubs and other community organizations. They offer a number of engaging activities to:

  • Build one-on-one tutoring relationships.
  • Create collaborative projects where young people work together to complete a project.
  • Engage in high-yield learning activities, including games that use cognitive skills, writing activities, creating short plays, skits or musical pieces, or reading.
  • Create projects that encourage parental involvement.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America

For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens.  Today, nearly 4,000 Clubs serve some 4 million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native American lands throughout the country. Children and families of the U.S. Armed Services receive Club programs and support through BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers located on U.S. military installations worldwide. Clubs provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Club programs promote academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at http://bgca.org/facebook and http://bgca.org/twitter.

1 Afterschool Alliance 

2 Rand Education Report, 2011

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