Why Summer Tutoring Makes a Difference
From Megan, the founder of The Community Classroom
I recently had a conversation with a client about summer tutoring and the summer slide. We were sitting at a chamber luncheon and discussing the client’s (awesome!) teenage son. He has been working with a certified teacher at The Community Classroom for algebra support during the school year and his dad was talking about how they were pushing for him to consider tutoring during the summer (What! Not just during the school year!).
“It’s about building and keeping those foundational skills, so he keeps growing and doesn’t forget anything. He thinks it’s just about grades and test prep, but it’s all about building and keeping those foundational skills.”
That conversation got me thinking about tutoring and how it’s like many goals we work towards and skills we build along the way. For example:
- Working out with a personal trainer. I spent a while in my twenties working towards a health-related goal that involved getting rid of unhealthy habits I picked up in college (aka the weight I put on with beer and pizza). I saw a personal trainer 3 times a week and after a few months of diligence, practice, and willpower on my part, I was healthier. But when I hit that goal, I didn’t stop. I continued working hard to keep that foundational health goal.
- Learning a language. I was having a conversation with my neighbor earlier this week. She was telling me that she has been practicing French with Duolingo every night for 30 minutes.
“I knew so much French at one point in my life and then I didn’t use it. I have lost of a bunch of that knowledge. I am working every day now to gain it back.” My neighbor reached a goal with her second language learning but then didn’t maintain it, so she lost that foundational knowledge.
- Playing a sport. I was an avid tennis player growing up—a prerequisite for almost any kid in Florida. You turn 4 and they slap a racquet in your hand. I played 4-5 days a week and then gave it a rest, playing club tennis in college and then petering out. I haven’t honestly played in years. I picked up a racquet again 2 years ago and was embarrassed at how horrible I was—it’s coming back, but SLOWLY and painfully. If I had just maintained that foundational knowledge a bit more I would have so much learning to “catch up” on. And I wouldn’t have lost all that time and effort that I put in to gain that knowledge and skill.
The summer slide. This is real, folks. Summer slide (or summer learning loss) is when students lose academic ground during months of no school. Now just to be clear: I’m not advocating for kids to be in a classroom all day long in the summer—I think summer is a time for fun, play, experiences, and freedom. But it is also a time to maintain and build those foundational learning skills so our kids won’t lose confidence, progress, or momentum over the summer months. Those learning gains are hard-earned and we should do our part as caregivers to make sure our children are able to keep those gains.
One study published by the American Educational Research Journal looked at summer learning loss in grades 1-8. It found that the average student lost between 17-34% of the prior year’s learning gains. As a mom of one and stepmom to four, I think about that statistic combined with the learning loss associated with the pandemic and know that it’s a risk I’m not willing to take. My children have worked too hard for what they have achieved. So tutor: We’ll be seeing you this summer. We’re all in!