Summer is time for kids to relax and enjoy a vacation from school and learning. But that vacation can lead to a lot of kids losing a lot of knowledge, especially if they are from low-income households, according to researchers.
Traditionally, summer learning loss has been addressed through summer school, but that's never been popular with students, according to a New York company called Practice Makes Perfect. It's trying to change that, using new methods to reach students and create a summer school model that kids will actually want to attend.
Karim Abouelnaga is the CEO and founder of Practice Makes Perfect. He says his upbringing made him acutely aware of the struggles of learning as a low-income student.
“I was raised by a single mother on government aid and went through some of New York City’s most struggling public schools,” he says.
Abouelnaga developed Practice Makes Perfect with a group of friends while he was in college. Today the company works to eliminate summer learning loss for students every year by training students to teach peers that are four years younger than them.
“When I first pitched the idea of having a sixth grader mentor a second grader, people thought we were crazy,” Abouelnaga says. “I can tell you in practice it works wonders. Education still is very much a relationship-based business. The number one reason kids show up to our programs every single summer is because of the relationships they build with their mentors.”
Given the negative perceptions that surround summer school, Abouelnaga says he hopes that Practice Makes Perfect can be an example of how to make summer teaching effective.
“We give our kids a pre-test and post-test, and every single year to date so far we’ve eliminated the summer learning loss for 100 percent of our participants,” he says.
“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VABEFORE YOU GO