From the end of one school year to the beginning of the next, all students will inevitably experience summer learning loss to some degree. While reading loss an issue for many children, according to Harvard Education, losing math skills is an even bigger problem for students from all backgrounds. Even though summer learning loss is a problem for every student, both parents and educators can take a number of steps to counter the problem.
What Causes Summer Learning Loss?
Summer is often the time reserved for family vacations and fun outdoor activities. While it’s great for kids to spend time being physically active, academic activities usually aren’t given priority during the summer months. Too many children don’t spend enough time reading, playing strategic games, or working on other learning activities that will maintain their academic skills, boost brain power, and encourage overall learning. In fact, less than 10 percent of America’s students participate in summer school. Most students simply don’t spend enough time during the summer months engaging in academic activities.
How Can Educators Prevent Summer Learning Loss?
Teachers can do several things to help prevent summer learning loss:
1. Create Partnerships with Local Libraries
Arrange a trip to a local library before the end of school, or invite a librarian to visit the class and bring information about summer programs.
2. Collect Books
Offer used books for students to take with them over break to encourage reading in the summer months.
3. Give Parents Information
Ensure that parents receive information about summer slide and ways to counter its effects. Provide families with a list of educational activities within the community, such as summer reading programs, local tutoring programs, or museums and historical landmarks for learning opportunities.
How Can Parents Prepare for the Next School Year?
There are several things parents can do to make sure their child doesn’t suffer from summer learning loss and is well prepared for the next school year:
4. Encourage Creative Writing
To make writing fun, have your children write about activities they enjoy. Encourage writing in any format—they can write about their favorite part of a family vacation, or what it felt like after their team won a Little League game. If they’re reluctant, ask them to start with writing the grocery list or a letter to a family member. If your child is a reader, combine the two with a book review. Don’t forget to ask them to cite examples of why they liked or disliked the book!
5. Set a Goal for Reading
Encourage your child to read throughout the summer, even if it’s only one or two books. Time at the beach or riding in the car can be spent engaged in reading. If they are reluctant, read a book with them. This will allow them to see you reading, and will give you the chance to hear them read. Discuss the book, the characters, and your thoughts or reaction to increase comprehension.
6. Prepare for the New School Year
Make sure your child isn’t overwhelmed with new material when the school year starts. Choose materials, such as the Summer Blast series from School Specialty. The series provides students and parents key skills and objectives from the previous grade and the beginning of the next grade and provides ideas for easy-to-implement family activities that foster everyday learning.
7. Include Math
It’s usually easier to hand a child a book or assign a creative writing project than to engage in math problems. But whether it’s computer games, worksheets, or a few simple math problems each day, it’s important to make sure math is part of any summer enrichment.
The summer doesn’t have to be a time of learning loss! Don’t neglect fun family and outdoor adventures, but keep in mind that setting aside even a few times each week for academic activities can make a major difference in learning retention over the summer.