With spring just around the corner, I cannot help but think forward to the summer. The summer often gets glorified for students as a time full of fun in the sun. However, the summer is not a fun vacation for everyone. A lot of students are left at home to keep an eye on the house and their younger siblings. Before I could work during the summer, I was able to go to summer camp for a few weeks out of the summer, but that still left me to hang around the house for the majority of the summer. Summer camp is expensive, and often not accessible to the average working family. As a result, a lot of students stay home alone. This has a lot of negative impacts on the student’s health. They become bored, which can lead to weight gain, apathy, and learning loss.
Summer learning loss is cumulative, and can lead to significant achievement gaps between low-income students and their peers from higher-income families. Over eighty percent of low-income students lose one to three months of learning over the summer. Teachers report spending at least three weeks re-teaching curriculum from the previous year. As a student, I can remember feeling frustrated that such a large part of our time was being spent on rehashing old material. The amount of time used to re-learn material could be better spent learning new material if students did not lose such a large part of what they learned over the summer. This is why we need summer afterschool programs to fill in learning gaps and provide more equal opportunities for students to thrive. With government support through summer learning grant programs like the ones outlined in HB-5168, we can make summer learning more accessible to all of our students, and help close the achievement gap in Connecticut.
Sarah Motta, Senior at University of Connecticut: “This semester, I am interning with the Connecticut After School Network in Hartford as part of UConn’s Urban Semester internship program. One of the reasons why I wanted to work with the Connecticut After School Network is because they are passionate about creating a holistic, accessible, and supportive learning environment for students to mature academically and interpersonally.”