Mitigate summer learning loss with a Bridge Program

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In education, we know summer as a time of adventure, freedom, and potential. Without the structure of school, students benefit from play, exploration, family, and friends as sources of social and practical learning. Imagine the biggest lessons that Brother and Sister Bear learn in each entry into the "Berenstain Bears" series. It is precisely those kinds of lessons that are an essential part of summer, childhood, and -- yes -- education, too.

It is also the time when academic gains can be rolled back -- not because they aren't meaningful, but because time-on-task in writing and arithmetic is spent on such earthly matters as facing down the fears of riding a roller coaster for the first time, canoeing with friends and family on a camping trip, or plotting how to spend a well-earned allowance.

This process has a name, though it paints the summer as more of a bummer. That name is "summer learning loss," and it has been affecting students since at least the early 20th century when it was first studied systematically. More likely, it has been affecting students since schooling began!

According to a Brookings Institute study, drops in student performance over the two-and-a-half month summer are equivalent to missing another month of in-class instruction. ( It is a literal two steps forward, one step back scenario: on average, the cost of every two months of summer is a full month backslide in academics.

If you are both concerned about summer learning loss and you want your child to learn those Berenstain Bears-style lessons in fun, challenge, and sociability, St. Paul's Choir School is once again offering its bridge program. The Summer Program at St. Paul's runs from June 19 to 23 and from Aug. 21 to 25. It is designed to ease students out of school and into summer and, again, from summer to school.

The program specifically highlights choral arts and an entry to music through classes in rhythm, movement, and rehearsals. Other classes in the program highlight critical thinking, including improv theater, code-breaking (spy skills!), fine arts, and pinewood derby.

The program is open to boys and girls ages four-and-a-half to 11. Learn more at

Patrick Moran is Assistant Principal ( or 617-868-8658) at St. Paul's Choir School in Harvard Square, a Grade Three through Eight boys school serving St. Paul's Parish community with choral excellence.