Children’s development of semantic verbal fluency during summer vacation versus during formal schooling

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Purpose: Children’s results on school-related achievements tests, such as aspects of math, reading and writing, have been shown to decline following a lengthy summer vacation. Few studies have investigated whether this also applies to vocabulary skills. The purpose of this study is to investigate how lexical organization and retrieval, assessed by a semantic verbal fluency (SVF) task, develops during a lengthy summer vacation versus formal schooling. Method: Sixty-eight children with mean age of 7.9 (ranging from 6.5 to 9.1), were assessed pre- and post-summer vacation and post-fall semester using two SVF categories (Animals and Clothes). The number of words produced in both categories gave the total score. Results: The result of the SVF tests decreased following summer vacation. The loss was recouped at the post-fall semester assessment, but no gains compared to initial testing were shown. Neither level of parental education, general language ability, non-verbal IQ, nor bilingualism explained the variance in development during the summer vacation or the fall semester. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that a lengthy summer vacation causes a recess in the expected development of SVF ability and that this recess is recouped after a semester of formal schooling. The findings are in line with previous research indicating that summer vacation may have negative impact on the development of important scholastic abilities in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-142
Number of pages9
JournalLogopedics Phoniatrics Vocology
Issue number3
Early online date2019 Jul 4
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics
  • Pedagogy
  • Other Medical Sciences not elsewhere specified


  • language development
  • school calendar
  • semantic verbal fluency
  • summer loss
  • summer slide
  • Summer vacation
  • vocabulary development
  • word fluency


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