Headlines at Hopkins: news releases from
  university Headlines
News by Topic: news releases organized by
  subject News by Topic
News by School: news releases organized by the 
  university's 9 schools & divisions News by School
Events Open to the Public (campus-wide) Events Open
to the Public
Blue Jay Sports: Hopkins Athletic Center Blue Jay Sports
Search News Site Search the Site

Contacting the News Staff: directory of
  press officers Contacting
News Staff
Receive News Via Email (listservs) Receive News
Via Email
RSS News Feeds RSS News Feeds
Resources for Journalists Resources for Journalists

Virtually Live@Hopkins: audio and video news Virtually
Hopkins in the News: news clips about Hopkins Hopkins in
the News

Faculty Experts: searchable resource organized
  topic Faculty Experts
Faculty and Administrator Photos Faculty and
Faculty with Homepages Faculty with Homepages

JHUNIVERSE Homepage JHUniverse Homepage
Headlines at Hopkins
News Release

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

July 13, 2007
CONTACT: Amy Lunday, (443) 287-9960
Jeanne Johnson, 443-791-0226
Debra Carroll, 443-340-4641

Tips for Easing Back-to-School Shock

The transition from the lazy days of summer to the back- to-school crunch can be jarring. Studies documented by The Johns Hopkins University's Center for Summer Learning show that all students fall almost 2.6 months behind in math skills over the summer. For low-income children, the slip in reading is particularly harmful: They fall behind an average of two months in reading while their middle-income peers tend to make slight gains.

That learning loss — known as "summer slide" — means it can be tough to get back into the swing of things academically. To avoid back-to-school "shock," Ron Fairchild, executive director of the Center for Summer Learning, recommends ramping up before the school year begins. "Like any skill, learning is a skill that requires practice," he said. "High-quality learning opportunities should be a part of every child's summer, but particularly as the school year approaches, it's important to participate in stimulating learning activities that stir up motivation in preparation for the coming year."

Some of his suggestions:

Reading, Reading, Reading

Research shows that reading may be the single most important activity children can do over the summer to stay on track during the school year. Fairchild suggests organizing a library trip where kids can explore whatever strikes their interest. "Once the school year starts, there's more structure to learning," he said, "but late summer can be a time for kids to explore subjects that capture their imaginations. And when we can learn about what we love, that momentum can carry over into other areas."

Searching out biographies of people who have overcome adversity can also be an inspirational way to highlight the value of hard work and perseverance, which will be valuable as children dig in for the rigors of another school year.

Make Math a Part of Everyday Life

Depending on their ability level, Fairchild said, children can help develop a budget or keep track of expenditures. Families can practice math and measurements while making a meal together. Sports fans can track statistical averages or percentages. And a car trip can provide opportunities to add and subtract miles or compare distances.

"Look for teachable moments," Fairchild said. "We use math every day, sometimes without even thinking about it. And as a parent, you may be helping to plant an interest in a future career as an accountant, an athlete, a chef, or even a mathematician. If kids can see a connection between numbers and what interests them, it might be the motivation they need."

Take Family Field Trips

Visits to museums or other educational or historical sites might build on current interests or spark new ones. "If your child likes art, for example, you might visit an art museum and talk about famous artists," Fairchild said. "Museums are also great places to learn about science and nature. Field trips can take us out of our ordinary routines and stimulate an overall interest in learning about our fascinating world. Make it a time of creative exploration and enrichment."

The good news is that the more students can make learning a part of everyday life and not just a seasonal exercise, the more likely they are to retain and build on what they've learned, Fairchild said. "Our goal is to help ensure that all kids have access to learning opportunities and resources that level the playing field between the affluent and economically disadvantaged, but the critical thing is to keep making progress. And that's something all kids can do."

More information on summer learning and related resources is available on the Johns Hopkins' Center for Summer Learning Web site at www.summerlearing.org . For more information, or to arrange interviews, contact Jeanne Johnson, 443-791-0226 or Debra Carroll, 443-340-4641.

Johns Hopkins University news releases can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.jhu.edu/news_info/news/
   Information on automatic e-mail delivery of science and medical news releases is available at the same address.

arrow Go to Headlines@HopkinsHome Page