Summer setback: Some kids losing math, literacy skills over vacation

Summer setback occurs during the summer months and it means that students are losing skills or their existing skills are not as sharp as they were just weeks prior.

Students from disadvantaged homes more likely to lose numeracy, literacy skills over summer

Some students will head back to school with weakened literacy and numeracy skills while others may find themselves ahead of their classmates. (Todd Berkey/The Tribune-Democrat via AP)

Canadian students may be heading back to class with inadequate numeracy and literacy skills.

Summer setback occurs during the vacation months and it means that students' skills are not as sharp as they were just weeks prior.

"Students can lose one to three months of literacy and numeracy over the summer," said Janice Aurini, associate professor of sociology at the University of Waterloo.

Aurini conducted a study that examines summer setback in Canadian students.

"Some kids are a fair bit behind, and other kids ... are ahead."

She says that children from more advantaged homes tend to gain skills, or start where they left off in June.

"Other kids from more disadvantaged circumstances, they're the ones who are most vulnerable to summer learning losses."

The reason students are at a risk of falling behind is largely because not all children have access to resources that support literacy and numeracy during the summer.

"Parents are working, they're busy and have less flexible schedules…Putting kids in high quality programs is really expensive," she says.

Ontario students do have the option to freshen up their skills during a short summer camp aimed at keeping kids on track.

"The government there decided to support and fund a short summer program," said Aurini. "It's a very intensive literacy and numeracy program that has had a real positive impact."

Aurini says even a few weeks of classroom refreshers is enough to cut back on summer setback.

"We know they need support over the summer, so having quite a lot of vacation, and a little bit of literacy and numeracy, is a win-win for everyone."