STEMpower

Combating the "Summer Slide" Through Enriching Camps

The “Summer slide” is a phrase coined by researchers that has been in existence for over 100 years (Borman, Benson, and Overman, 2005). This concept was introduced after many studies which revealed that students tend to forget what they learn in the transition from one grade to the next. That said, children have been proven to recall reading experiences better than their math understanding over the summer, there is a way to combat this knowledge deficit: camps.

In the midst of summer, students may have a hard time recalling and integrating what they learned in the classroom during the previous academic year. One way to encourage further learning and a reinforcement of reviewed concepts is to introduce them to educational camps.

Educational camps available for kids of all ages are certainly not a novel idea; they have been in existence for nearly 100 years of more. Paul Miller remarks that (1936)

“There is evidence on every hand that the bookish education which we considered sufficient unto itself as late as a decade ago is hopelessly inadequate for the needs of our pupils today. Real life becomes the workshop of the classroom. It is the summer camp with its variety of activities which affords one of the greatest opportunities for a closer coordination between the work of the school and its purposes” (Miller, 1936, p. 432).

Some of the unique benefits of camp are that children, regardless of socio-economic status or gender, have displayed opportunities to become familiar with the world of living things. Typically, recalling facts or learning about science, for example, remains in the abstract when discussed in the classroom. However, if students are allowed to observe living things or the functions of machines in their ordinary environment, there is a likelihood that such students will be able to integrate their knowledge into a holistic experience that allows them to become intimately acquainted with STEM concepts (an idea which can resonate with them for years to come) (Rzepka, 1957).

A vital component of ensuring that kids are able to retain adequate knowledge from one grade level to the next is through active parenting that encourages kids to explore what they are learning and putting their skills into action. This is especially true with underperforming students; camps allow them to integrate without the pressure of producing a specific numerical grade used to identify conceptual learnedness. Although grades are not ordinarily assigned in summer programs, it should be assumed that effective camps are designed in a structurally beneficial, educational format.

Thankfully, PCS offers a wide variety of camps that can be utilized to fight the “summer slide”. Again, because reading skills tend to easily transfer from one grade level to the next and do not ordinarily result in a kind of growth stunt, it is particularly important that students are allowed to become intimately familiar with STEM understanding, which has the ability to adequately transition knowledge transfer despite the onset of “summer blues”.



References

Miller, P. (1936). The Summer Camp Reënforces Education. Junior-senior High School Clearing House10(8), 471–473. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.proxy-remote.galib.uga.edu/stable/30174710

Rzepka,  L.  (1957). The Summer Camp and Childhood Education. The Science Teacher24(3), 129–131. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.proxy-remote.galib.uga.edu/stable/24143058

Borman, G. D., Benson, J., & Overman, L. T. (2005). Families, Schools, and Summer Learning. The Elementary School Journal106(2), 131–150. http://doi.org.proxy-remote.galib.uga.edu/10.1086/499195

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