Many students feel that summer is the time for a break from studying and learning. Many parents submit to this theory without understanding the ramifications. What is the answer?
Studies have shown that on the most part there is no harm in taking a brief break from learning and studying, but a prolonged break such as that during the whole summer is extremely detrimental to the development of good study habits, learning, retention, and motivation. Although it is often beneficial for a family to take a vacation when all members are available, this should not be at the expense of the student failing to exercise his mind or doing at least a minimum of studying during this time.
A number of schools, mostly in other countries, have experimented with summer classes and all-year schooling. On the whole, this has proved beneficial to development of study habits and retention of material. The data generated seems to lead to the conclusion that steady and constant work in learning improves retention, motivation and attitude.
Experience has shown that a small amount of work on a daily basis is superior to the 6-7 hours M-F during the school year. I home-schooled my daughter during her 5th through 8th grades, requiring her to attend 30 minutes of lecture and 30 minutes of homework on a core subject daily. Additionally, I allowed her to study on her own any other subject in which she was interested. With proper notice, I allowed her to choose “field trips” and activities that related to her interests. That is 4 years of 1 hour of core daily – a total of 365 hours per year, far less than the typical 1500+ hours per year that the average student spends in school and doing homework. At the end of her 8th grade, as required, she took an achievement test. She placed at second semester high school junior level. Slow but steady works.
Do not allow your children to become lazy during the summer. Academics should have a higher priority than other activities.
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David K. Yoshinaga, Ph.D., Ph.D., Sc.D.