Waiting in line at the grocery store, I notice magazine covers. The summer issues use lovely summery words. Simply Living has “The Most Relaxing Summer.” Southern Living—“The Soul of Summer” and “The Perfect Lazy Lunch.”
Ah but the joy of kicking back in the good old summertime!
But thus far, most of what I have read about children and summer indicate the education reformers are obsessed with the usual 21st Century schooling rigmarole, closing the achievement gap, and getting kids to college before they are out of preschool.
Hold on to your hats boys and girls, you may have thought school was out for a few months, but surprise! Here comes summer rigor!
Actually, if kids are lucky, they might get some art, school library services, smaller class sizes, credentialed teachers, a little storytelling, and field trips—the things they should get during the school year! That’s in some places.
But it still seems to be mostly all about acceleration and third grade reading proficiency. Groups like the National Summer Learning Association sponsored by Walmart want summer school to push skills…and more skills, although they describe some variety in places like Baltimore.
Perhaps this group would do better to monitor the programs out there that are scamming the public. See yesterday’s post.
I couldn’t help but notice this NBC video by the CEO of the Walmart group, which sounds more like an infomercial for iPad apps than a news report. I am not against using technology to play games and learn new skills. I just don’t like the heavy push for it, like it will save Johnny from a life of illiteracy. Also, how many parents would like their children to take a break from the computer? Raise your hands.
Why can’t we give children a summer break? The world isn’t going tip off its axis if children rest after a difficult school year. I don’t care what economic bracket a family falls in, children need some unstructured time to figure out on their own what to do during time off. It is good for them. It gets their creative juices flowing.
When I was young, a neighborhood friend made up her own tag game. It involved hide-and-go-seek and chase. We played this for hours! I still remember the fun. If nothing else it kept our weight under control, we were active, and we stayed out of trouble. And we socialized!
What summertime memories will today’s child enjoy?
School literacy programs? And we aren’t only talking older children here. I found the information below in a paper called “Accelerating Learning through Summer Achievement” published by the David and Lucille Packard Foundation for the National Summer Learning Association.
Here they mention the Springboard Collaborative, devised by a Harvard Teach for America alum, which is another nonprofit. Have you noticed how many nonprofits we now have running learning programs? Schools pay them $850 per child so they can push reading in pre-K to 3rd grade. But who is monitoring this group?
Over the summer, this program puts children through an “intensive five-week summer literacy program,” They call it “Springboard Summer.” They coach teachers and create leaders too, because 5 weeks of fast-track instruction about data collection makes you especially capable (sarcasm). They also train families and use “books and tablets” so students will have “life opportunities.” Such hubris!
Of course they brag about raising scores too. Of course…. I’d like to ask those children if they like to read at the end of summer, when they begin the new school year of more intensive reading drill and high-stakes testing.
Little children who have been working hard all school year need and deserve a break! There are fun activities that children can do that will still teach but not directly.
And of course I know that for many poor children, playing outside in the neighborhood and making friends easily might not be easy. Some kids may require help and/or structure with activities. So summer school should be a viable option. But it doesn’t have to be summer school that directly emphasizes skills. More about this coming up.
They should also spend time with their families without feeling like they have to be measuring reading skills all the time. Shouldn’t we ask whether we “Are Pushing Our Kids Too Hard?” Shouldn’t summer also be a time for self-discovery?
Karl Alexander from Johns Hopkins University and many others, write about learning loss over the summer. I have no doubt that they are right. But perhaps instead of pointing at the child, the reformers should consider the terrible focus on high-stakes testing all school year long. Why wouldn’t a child want to forget what they learned in that kind of environment?
Instead of forcing students, especially those in poverty, to have a daily regimen of nothing but reading and math during the school year, maybe schools should get back to providing a well-balanced curriculum and smaller class sizes that are age-appropriate.
And then let’s give them summer. Relaxing with a few lazy lunches might be just the ticket!
I welcome other suggestions about children and summer.