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Orlando Sentinel Q&A: Plugging the summer brain drain

Tuesday, June 9, 2015  
Posted by: Tyler Mattingly
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With Central Florida schools tapping the summer pause button, many kids are trading the three R's for three F's — fun, frolic and forgetfulness. Many see up to three months of reading and 'rithmetic evaporate in the heat. It's an issue at the heart of the National Summer Learning Association, which marks Summer Learning Day, June 19, where school districts, libraries and stakeholders highlight summer learning. Sarah Pitcock, a University of Florida grad and the group's CEO, answered Editorial Board emailed questions about summer brain drain.

Q: What causes summer brain drain?

A: Even though our brains aren't technically muscles, they need to be exercised to maintain and grow their functionality. Math skills are quick to decay, and over the summer, without practice, most kids lose skills in math. With reading, we see a difference in summer learning loss based on household income level. Higher-income kids keep building their reading skills on the same trajectory whether they are in school or not. Middle-income kids are more likely to plateau over the summer, and low-income children lose months worth of reading skills each summer without practice.

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