Where education is concerned, these long, languid days of summer – with apologies to Charles Dickens – can be the “best of times” and “the worst of times.” Many schoolchildren anticipate the next summer vacation almost as soon as a new school year has begun. Summer means pools, amusement parks and family holidays, as opposed to school time, which they associate with books, exams and homework.
However, for educators, summer vacation can have a vastly different meaning. They often view a traditional 10-week-long summer break as a time when the knowledge and competencies students have absorbed during the previous school year are often lost – resulting in days and weeks teaching remedial skills at the start the new school year. Academic research has pointed to a connection between summer vacations and so-called “learning loss,” particularly among low-income and at-risk students.