Gongol.com Archives: June 2023

Brian Gongol

June 1, 2023

News Don't forget

As school lets out for the summer across the United States, well-meaning teachers will inevitably grow anxious about summer learning loss -- the slippage widely believed to occur as kids are away from the classroom. Whether the evidence is quite as bad as the perception of the issue may be another story, but given the pointed decline in test scores after Covid-related school shutdowns, it's hard to argue that kids are capable of learning and retaining quite as well when they're spending their summers "free range" as when they're bound to the classrooms in the colder months of the year. ■ Notwithstanding the finer details of helping children find motivation to keep sharp on what they've learned during the school year, it's hard to think of any fundamental parenting project more useful than nudging kids to find something -- anything -- in which to take a recreational interest. ■ It is the largely unstructured nature of childhood summers that often makes them so appealing. Play is spectacularly important to human development, and adults should carve out lots of latitude for kids to engage in play, no matter how hard structure tries to intrude upon summer vacation. ■ But curiosity often does need just a little bit of outside help: A spark turns into a roaring campfire usually when someone blows gently on it. It's no use to overwhelm the dry tinder, but it's also usually not enough to hope it catches all on its own. Adults often do the most good by giving childhood curiosity just a little bit of help: A few extra trips to the library, a couple of explorational tools, or a nudge to explore for an answer to a question without resorting to a YouTube tutorial. ■ Many kids will take the summer off and return to classrooms in the fall without any apparent slippage at all. Others will surrender some of the prior year's gains. But the more we can invite young people to at least stay curious (and to grow more so independently), the better off everyone will emerge in the long run.