Slacked Off on Summer Skills? Read This and Relax a Little!

Slacked Off on Summer Skills? Read This and Relax a Little!

Had good intentions to have the kids keep up their summer skills?  Where are those so-called “lazy days of summer?”  As we all try to get the most out of what summer has to offer…not many lazy days here.

If the suggested reading, workbooks, and packets from teachers are still undone, ease your mind a bit as you read what Alfie Kohn – (well-known author and challenger of rewards, grades, homework, and testing) has to say.

Summer Fade Concerns Are Overblown

Kohn believes that the concerns of summer learning loss are exaggerated.   In part coming  from a fear adults have of children “wasting time.   “Busyness becomes an end in its own right.  We frown when our kids waste time and feel a little ashamed when we ourselves are guilty of it.” (So true for me) Although the phenomenon is real, it is not as pervasive as it has been promoted. (that's a relief)

According to Kohn- some problems with the issue of summer learning loss are:

• Little available data points to loss in reading skills- and unfortunately those losses are directly related to a students’ socioeconomic status. Low-income children are affected disproportionately. Some of the achievement gap can be explained by class based differences

• Researchers say the key to gaining ground in reading proficiency is to make sure “self-selected” books for summer reading are easily accessible

• Most of the research for the problem is based on standardized tests- Kohn challenges how meaningful those are in the first place, saying we should refer to this phenomenon as “summer loss on standardized test”

What this says to me and continues to confirm is the importance of READING!!  ...more support for local libraries and their programs...  parents need to encourage and model kids get in those "just right books".

I first heard about Kohn while working for an educational publisher. I have two of his books- The Homework Myth and Unconditional Parenting. I admit, it is difficult for me to agree with all of his ideas since some ways of thinking have been so ingrained. I do like to hear both sides of the argument and then do what I think is best.

Reading Alfie Kohn's article has me less stressed about the "learning loss" issue so my children will appreciate my easing up a little.  But ...sorry Alfie, I will still  make sure my daughter completes her math workbook this summer.

Where do you fall? For, against, or somewhere in the middle in regards to practicing academic skills over the summer? Does your school, PTA/PTO, or parent group do anything special to encourage summer enrichment? Please comment, tweet, share, or contact me at

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    Lisa Stiegman

    My name is Lisa Stiegman and I have been a Chicago area resident all my life. Besides being the mother of three children, I have been a writer, editor, and teacher.

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