While many students view summer as a time to forget about school, it remains an important part of their educational journey. If students don’t stay sharp on what they learned over the past year, research and statistics show they can lose up to one month of learning in the short summer vacation period.
But summer break and learning can coexist in a fun, productive manner that keeps kids engaged! Here are five ways to prevent summer learning loss and help your student retain information to help them succeed when the new school year begins.
1. Create a routine to stay on track.
Most students receive summer work from their teachers, and procrastinating until the last moment can feel overwhelming to both students and parents. Additionally, it is easy for students to forget technical material like mathematics and writing mechanics without routine practice. Help your students schedule regular time throughout the summer to learn and complete work; even just 15-30 minutes a day will allow students to keep their skills sharp and knock out that summer work so they can enjoy their break worry-free.
How can you take this from a good idea to actually happening at home?
- Empower your child by working with them to create a schedule that balances both schoolwork and play.
- Decide on a duration and frequency, such as 15 minutes daily on weekdays, and give your child some choices regarding when they can complete their work.
- Post the schedule in a place where your children will see it, and consider adding boxes to log their time and track their progress—perhaps even consider some rewards for going above and beyond.
2. Do the math.
Math skills are particularly susceptible to the “summer slide,” so it’s critical that parents help their children build in time to exercise these technical skills regularly. Fortunately, there are many ways beyond the traditional math packet for your child to practice and avoid summer math loss.
- Cook and bake together, which will require your child to calculate measurements.
- Play card games or board games that encourage math skills for fun.
- Encourage your children to pursue “math in the wild” by asking them to calculate the tip, tax, or change required when paying for items.
3. Be creative.
While creating an academic project or presentation over the summer may not pique your child’s interest at first, engaging in other activities may stimulate imagination, reawaken latent interests, and ultimately motivate your student to tackle summer work with a renewed sense of creativity.
Whether students are doing artwork, exploring the world around them, or performing something they made, there are an abundance of activities children and parents can do to find inspiration.
- Provide access to art supplies or collaborate with your child on projects around the house to get their creativity flowing.
- Facilitate day trips to local museums, parks, zoos, and aquariums, and find ways to make them interactive (for example, create a scavenger hunt with a reward for finding the answers).
- Encourage students to play music, sing, or perform, which activates and strengthens various areas of the brain.
4. Read books.
Incentivizing your child to read over the summer is an efficient way to prevent education loss in the summer. Your student will likely have required summer reading, but reading for pleasure also has many inherent academic benefits. When selecting books with your students, encourage them to choose works that are germane to their interests and challenging enough to keep their skills fresh.
- Start a family book club, or help your child start a book club with friends.
- Keep track of the books your child reads, and help them celebrate their progress.
- Talk with your local librarian about your child’s needs and interests—they can help collate a list of suggestions.
- Whether you are shopping online, visiting a book shop, or checking books out at the library, empower your child to select a few titles that grab their attention.
- Help your child keep a reading log and reward them periodically when they reach their goals.
5. Write often.
Keeping students engaged in the practice of writing is one of the most effective ways to keep young brains active. Research shows that writing with a pen and paper activates a part of the brain that allows students to understand concepts and material better. Furthermore, writing mechanics and grammatical concepts are often difficult to retain without practice, so students should frequently practice all forms of writing.
- Encourage your child to stay on top of assigned summer book reports as well as keeping a journal, writing poetry, or creating a comic book. In addition to enhancing writing skills and decreasing stress, these activities also promote mental well-being.
- Play games with your child where you co-write a short story, make a combined collection of poetry, develop activities for younger siblings, or create a script for a play.
- Incorporate small and manageable grammar practice activities into weekly work to stay on top of technical skills that may quickly diminish.
Overall, providing a regular schedule, plenty of opportunities for creativity, and a variety of stimulating learning choices will help prevent summer learning loss, so your child is ready to go back to school in the fall.