Children learn best when instruction is continuous. A long summer vacation in which students do no schoolwork disrupts the rhythm of learning, leads to forgetting, and requires time be spent reviewing old material when students return to school in the fall. Summer homework can help prevent this.
Studies show that, on average, achievement test scores decline between spring and fall, and the loss is more pronounced for math than reading. All students, regardless of economic status, show roughly equal amounts of decline in math skills over the summer. But substantial differences are found when it comes to reading. While middle-class students on average maintain or improve their reading during the summer, children from impoverished families often lose ground. Teachers have seen the same kind of learning loss after long Covid-related school closures.
A long summer break from all academics can also have negative consequences for children with special educational needs. And it can be an extra burden for children who don’t speak English at home: For them, it’s not simply a matter of relearning academic material; in many cases, they also must re-acquaint themselves with the language of instruction.