Published: July 9, 2019
For many parents, summer learning loss is a frustrating thing to witness. After watching their child struggle to master vital skills like writing and algebra over the course of the school year, summer comes along and seems to wipe the memory clean.
Numerous studies on summer learning loss have been conducted, and scientists have consistently observed not only that students tend to dip in performance after the summer break, but that these dips may become even more dramatic as the students enter middle school.
This should be of concern for every parent. Even bright students are affected by this decline in comprehension, which not only makes it difficult for them to get back into the rhythm of the school year, but can also cause them to experience a loss of confidence.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things parents can do to counteract this process. From inspiring them to pursue an educational hobby and getting them involved in community literacy programs to hiring professional tutors for your kids this summer, there are strategies available that can help you minimize or even overcome the adverse effects of the dreaded summer slide altogether. Here are four of the most effective.
1. Help Them Cultivate a New Passion
One of the most wonderful things about having young children is getting to watch them explore the world around them. Summer is a perfect time for this kind of exploration, and if you want to help curb their learning loss in general, encouraging them to get involved in an educational hobby like playing a musical instrument or participating in a science club is a great way to make learning fun.
These hobbies can also bear a different kind of fruit in the long term: as we have noted before in this space, when it comes to tips to help your kids get into university lots of schools are looking for students who have demonstrated a wide range of different interests. What starts as a summer passion may develop into the kind of dedicated hobby that can help make them stand apart from the crowd when it comes time to apply for post-secondary education.
2. Get Them Involved in a Reading Program
Decline in comprehension and skill in disciplines like history, social sciences, and language arts are almost always a by-product of a decline in reading. According to one seminal study, young children can lose as much as two months of reading skills over the course of the summer, in most cases because they are simply not reading.
This means that by grade five, a child will have lost a year and a half of their cumulative progress due to learning loss over the summer. Obviously, this represents a huge waste of time and resources; but what can parents do to stop it from happening?
The single most important thing is just to get them reading. Whether they are reading adventure books or romance novels matters less than the fact that they are reading at all, as summer reading of any kind has been correlated with better academic performance year round.
For this reason, getting them involved in a summer reading program that will allow them to discover new books and encounter reading in a fun and recreational context is a worthwhile investment of time and energy.
3. Hire a Summer Tutor
Sitting inside and going over math problems is probably the last thing your child wants to spend their summer doing, but with certain crucial skills, the only way to maintain educational inertia is through regular exposure. This can pose a major challenge, especially for students at the high school level who may be studying mathematical or scientific concepts that you can’t help them with.
In cases like these, hiring a summer tutor can be a very worthwhile investment. Not only can a tutor help keep your child engaged in their course material, because tutoring is significantly less formal than classroom learning, it is also an opportunity to help your child overcome personal learning challenges in a safe environment.
This is especially effective when it comes to hard skills like math, which can pose significant barriers for many students. Having a tutor come to your home every week will provide enough structure and support that your child will not only retain what they have learned throughout the school year, but can also improve their knowledge in advance of the year to come.
If you want to explore the possibility of tutoring this summer, call us to learn more about how Prep Academy Tutors can help your child meet their learning goals.
4. Turn Your Holiday Into a Field Trip
Finally, be aware of the educational opportunities that summer organically affords. Whether you like spending your summer holidays at the cottage or you’re planning a major family trip abroad, building educational opportunities into your holiday is a great way to keep children intellectually engaged during the summer months.
For example, if you’re travelling to visit family in another city or another part of the country, you can use it as an opportunity to get them reading about the geography or history of the place you are visiting. If you are going to a large city or a region with a rich cultural history, you may also be able to find young adult novels or picture books that are set in the places you will be travelling to.
Not only does this help keep your children engaged in educational work, it also helps to build a link between what they are learning in school and the world around them. Alternatively, you can plan your holiday around an educational theme, or make sure your itinerary includes day-trips to sites of historical or scientific interest.
Summer learning loss will always pose a threat for children in the elementary and middle school years, but you don’t need to accept it as inevitable.
By encouraging your children to stay engaged in learning throughout the summer by exploring new hobbies, reading regularly, getting tutoring, and making family holidays an educational opportunity, you can ensure they will be ready for the challenges of a new school year when September rolls around.