From Al Mohler:
A teenager I happen to know quite well (seeing that he lives in my house) announced last week that summer is time off for his brain. Well, nothing fires up the parental learning plans like a teenager who announces his plans to learn as little as possible over the summer. Suffice it to say that the young man has a wonderfully enriching summer on his way. And — I promise you this — he will enjoy it. Like I say, I know the kid.
Actually, my wife and I have planned almost every summer as a time of learning, and much of that knowledge can never be learned in a book. We have dragged our children through museums and libraries all over the world, retraced movements of battles, seen the seats of government power, sat in cockpits of modern supersonic fighters, been into the Everglades to spot dangerous wildlife (boys especially love to find anything that can eat or kill you), and shared a disastrous experience of car sickness while discussing God’s creation of the world just after visiting the Grand Canyon. (HINT: When big sister says little brother is about to blow . . . listen to her, stop the car, and UNLOCK THE CAR DOORS. That last part turns out to be really important.)
The Washington Post just reported that educators are particularly concerned about what they call the “summer brain drain.” Evidently, educators now believe that almost all students lose between two and 2 1/2 months of math computational skills over the summer. The good news is that most of the students can recapture that learning quite quickly in the fall. The bad news is the reminder that a brain in neutral is a brain losing ground.
The data on reading ability are particularly interesting. Children who read over the summer grow in reading knowledge and comprehension. No surprise there. The really interesting part of this research is the suggestion that a wide variety of summer experiences can provide background knowledge that turns out to be indispensable to growth in the understanding of what is read. “Life experiences other than reading can lead to advantages in reading comprehension,” advised Daniel T. Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. “If you don’t have a reading problem or a problem with decoding . . . your ability to read a passage is dependent on having some relevant background knowledge.”