Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
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May 29, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeanne Johnson
Center Offers Low-Cost Ways To Keep Kids Sharp to
Avoid "Summer Slide"
What: Interview availability with Ron Fairchild, executive director of the National Center for Summer Learning at The Johns Hopkins University, about the harm to children from cuts to summer programs, and how federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars are a solution. Low-cost tips for parents to prevent the summer slide at bottom of this release.
Baltimore — During tough times when states and local school districts face huge budget challenges, the National Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University is urging state and local school officials to tap federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars to continue offering high-quality summer learning programs for poor children.
"If school districts cut summer programs, more kids will fall behind academically," says Ron Fairchild, executive director of the National Center for Summer Learning, based at Johns Hopkins. "Instead, states, superintendents, boards of education and principals should use the historic infusion of ARRA education dollars to make high-quality summer learning programs available to children from low-income families as a smart way to close the achievement gap."
In recent interviews, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has noted that American students need more learning time and has urged districts to use the new federal ARRA funds to educate children during the summer. In a recent interview, for example, Duncan suggested that extra ARRA Title I funds could be used for low-income children during the summer. "Time, time, time," he was quoted as saying. "Get them in this summer, and I promise it will pay off in a few years."
The effort to keep kids learning during summer is based on research that shows that:
Most students fall more than two months behind in math over the summer.
Low-income children fall behind two months in reading while middle and upper-income peers make slight gains.
By fifth grade, low-income children can be 2-1/2 years behind in reading.
Only one in five children who receive free or reduced price meals during the school year gets them in summer.
A recent Johns Hopkins study found that 65 percent of the achievement gap in reading between poor and more advantaged ninth-graders is due to unequal summer learning experiences during elementary school years. That gap makes a difference in whether students decide to drop out or go on to college.
During the week of July 6, programs around the country will hold events to raise awareness of the importance of high- quality summer learning opportunities. The week's activities will culminate with Summer Learning Day on Thursday, July 9, an annual event organized by the National Center for Summer Learning to focus attention on how quality summer learning programs help close the achievement gap and promote healthy development. In 2008, more than 250 events took place in 35 states and on Capitol Hill.
"Even in tough economic times, there are many free or low- cost things parents can do to keep their kids healthy, safe and learning this summer," says Fairchild.
Summer Learning Tips for Parents
Locate a summer program that fits your budget. Programs offered by schools, recreation centers, universities, and community-based organizations often have an educational or enrichment focus.
The library is a great, free resource. Check out books that interest your child. Participate in free library summer programs and make time to read every day.
Take free or low-cost educational trips to parks, museums, zoos and nature centers.
If you are taking a day trip by car, choose a place with an educational theme. Camping is also is low-cost way to get outside and learn about nature.
Practice math daily: Measure items around the house or yard. Track daily temperatures. Add and subtract at the grocery store. Learn fractions while cooking.
Play outside. Limit TV and video games. Intense physical activity and exercise contribute to healthy development.
Do a community service project. Teach your child how to volunteer in your community and show compassion to others.
Keep a schedule. Continue daily routines during the summer with structure and limits. The key is providing a balance and keeping kids engaged.
Prepare for fall. Find out what your child will be learning during the next school year by talking with teachers at that grade level. Preview concepts and materials over the summer.
The National Center for Summer Learning believes that every young person should experience enriching, memorable summers. To realize this vision, the Center works to ensure that children and youth in high-poverty communities have access to quality summer learning programs. For more information, visit www.summerlearning.org.