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Letter: Fit Academics Into the Fun

To the Editor:

Summer fun is well under way with children playing at the pool, catching fireflies, sleeping late and taking family trips, but it shouldn't be all fun and games. Finding ways to fit academics into the fun is imperative to making sure children are prepared for the coming school year which begins in just a few short weeks.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, children from higher-incomes make slight gains over the summer in reading and math skills, returning to school ready to learn and succeed while their lower-income peers who aren’t exposed to academic opportunities during the summer lose, on average, two months of reading skills. The average summer learning loss in math amounts to one month per year.

This summer learning loss, also known as the summer slide, is a growing concern for our youth. As children return to school in the fall, those who have made gains over the summer in reading and math skills continue on the upward trajectory while those falling behind over the summer spend the first couple of months in the new school year relearning the skills from the previous year, sliding further behind their peers.

Over one year, this gap is concerning but compiled over five years, the results are astonishing with low-income students falling up to 3 years behind by 5th grade.

I commend the Fairfax County Public Schools for their robust menu of summer learning and summer enrichment programs. These opportunities for students throughout the county work to curb the summer slide.

But we can’t just leave it up to the schools to tackle important issues such as this – it’s up to all of us to make a difference in our communities, for our children and their future. At Cox, we teamed up with the Main Street Child Development Center to challenge these programs to incorporate rigorous learning opportunities into their existing summer programs to ensure their students return to school ready to learn.

This was part of a larger focus by Cox Virginia, in which a total of $16,000 was donated throughout Cox Virginia communities to support summer learning programs for at-risk children. The partnerships also gave Cox employees the chance to engage with the children. Cox volunteers read to the children and participated in hands-on extension activities to reinforce the concepts in the books.

As businesses, we want to see our communities grow and flourish, so I challenge you to join the public sector in ensuring that our children have what they need to succeed in school and in life. Make support of year-round youth education initiatives a priority by partnering with one of the many outstanding educational programs that exist in Fairfax County. Whether you’re able to provide financial support, supplies or time through volunteerism, it’s an investment we must make in our children. We can’t afford not to.

J.D. Myers, II

Herndon