Summer Math, Missing in Action

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006; 12:54 PM

Summer reading programs get top billing in libraries, bookstores and school Web sites this time of year. But math skills disappear at an alarming rate during the months away from school. Where are the summer computational programs?

Students lose about 2.6 months' worth of math skills over the 12-week break, according to a study published in the Review of Educational Research. This loss cuts across income levels, writes author and child psychologist Ruth Peters in USA Today. In contrast, middle income students actually gain in reading performance over the summer. Low-income students lose reading skills, but not as much as they lose in math, Peters says.

Author Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket of A Series of Unfortunate Events, is partnering with Barnes & Noble for its summer reading program. Where's the big-name celebrity partnership for summer math?

Peters suggests that parents supply interactive books and games, and tutors--for those who can afford them.

The Baltimore-based Center for Summer Learning has an online Mayor's Math Challenge, with "fun math problems" to solve each week for kids in kindergarten through 12th grade, with answer guides for parents.

This newsletter is even guilty of reading bias. You can view it on our very own list of books, comics and magazines for reluctant boy readers. Feel free to share what gets your boy reading at parenting@washingtonpost.com, and I'll add it to the page.

And if you have a suggestion for making summer math fun, send it as well. I'll share helpful Web sites and suggestions next week.

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Year-Round School

Math and other academic skills slip during the summer, and teachers spend four to six weeks reteaching material students have learned but forgotten. The learning loss is greatest among kids of low-income families, who also lose school-provided nutritious meals and adult supervision.

Many school districts have shortened summer by switching to the year-round schooling. The number of students in year-round programs--also called balanced calendar or modified calendar--is still relatively small: 2.1 million in 47 states, according to the National Association for Year-Round Education.


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