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    Learning Recovery: Bridging the Gap With Summer Enrichment Programs

    Posted by Johnathan Kindall

    Every summer, parents and educators can expect some “brain drain” from their teenage students. Time away from the classroom naturally results in the so-called “summer slide,” and while there’s plenty of things that parents and students can do to fight it, some degree of summer learning loss is understandable, typical and inevitable.

    However, as you probably well know, the last two years have been anything but typical. These times were difficult for students of all ages, and the learning loss was tremendous, widespread and devastating. COVID-19, remote learning, staffing shortages and more have made the last two years of learning incredibly difficult for students and teachers alike, and while many schools have started making strides to recover and find a new sense of normalcy, the learning loss from this period cannot be understated.

    During the pandemic, test scores and other important performance indicators of student success dropped by a large margin, and while recovery efforts are underway in school districts across the country and world, the work is slow-going. For starters, the learning loss was felt differently across various groups, and there’s no guarantee that what works for one student will work for another. In fact, the amount of learning loss experienced varies greatly based on age, location and income level, and the pandemic only intensified many inequities already present within the education system.

    Additionally, it’s hard to know exactly what is working, as schools are trying anything and everything to help recover from their losses. Initiatives like specialized tutoring and intensive after-school programs are great and certainly successful to some degree, but, at a large scale, it's unclear which countermeasures are having what effect.

    What is clear however, is that summer enrichment programs are more important than ever. For more than a decade, TeenLife has championed the many benefits of summer programs, and now, the stakes have never been higher. Summer programs, like all of the opportunities listed in this guide, offer a specialized, structured and out-of-the-classroom experience that is all but guaranteed to help students fight the summer slide.

    The best thing about summer programs for learning loss is their variability and variety. If a student fell behind in math this year, there’s a summer program out there to help catch them back up. If your teen is looking for the next step in learning a new language and needs a challenge to keep their brain engaged, there’s a program for that as well. Anything a student needs, a summer program can provide.

    Academic pre-college summer courses are one of the best ways to fight the slide from COVID and the typical summer brain drain. These programs, which usually allow students to specialize and choose the classes that interest them most, not only give teens a crash course in their favorite subjects, but keep their minds active and engaged through the summer months.

    Another great option is a summer program that allows students to learn or practice a new language. Language learning can have incredible effects on the brain, and learning a new language on a summer program is one of the best ways to keep a teen’s mind active and engaged through the summer months.

    Many of the travel and adventure-based programs in this guide include language learning as a component of their curriculum. If you or your student aren’t interested in the selective and costly pre-college courses, then a travel program with a language component is a fantastic alternative.

    Learning loss is not a small obstacle, and it will likely be many years before the full effects of the COVID slide are even understood, let alone overcome. However, we at TeenLife can say with full confidence that participating in a summer program like the ones in this guide is one of the best and most exciting ways that students can address these issues. We hope you take a look, find a program for you, and start bridging the gap today!

    Check Out TeenLife's Guide to Summer Programs 2023
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    Johnathan Kindall

    Johnathan Kindall is the Content Editor at TeenLife Media. He attended Boston University’s College of Communications, graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Journalism. Johnathan is dedicated to launching teens into life by providing a number of resources that help teens navigate the world of college, enrichment learning and more.