Summer Learning Loss: Action Steps to Get Ahead

After the school year has ended most kids want to play for the summer and forget about the classroom. Ignoring educational opportunities when school is out, however, can have negative consequences resulting in summer learning loss.

KnowledgePoints Learning Centers want to help keep children’s minds sharp throughout the entire year, which is why we have developed some action steps that parents can use at home to prevent summer learning loss becoming a reality for their child. Imagine if, instead of being behind at the end of the summer, your child had built the academic skills needed to be successful in the upcoming school year.

Summer Learning Loss Facts*

  • All young people experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.
  • On average, children’s test scores are at least one month lower when they return to school in the fall than scores when they left in the spring.
  • Summer learning loss is more pronounced in math. On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months.

The Impact of Summer Learning Loss*

  • Teachers spend the first 6-8 weeks of a new school year re-teaching material to students that was lost during the summer months.
  • A summer learning loss of 3 months in the elementary grades becomes a gap of 18 months by the end of 6th grade.
  • By middle school, this is a loss of 2 or more years in reading achievement.

*(Cooper, H., Nye, B., Charlton, K., Lindsay, J., & Greathouse, S., 1996. The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores.Review of Educational Research.)

Five Action Steps for Summer Learning

1. Stock Up on Learning Materials

Books

  • Summer reading is consistently related to academic gains.
  • Ensure the books chosen by your child are age-appropriate and on your child’s functioning level.
  • Get a summer reading list from your child’s teacher or librarian.

Games

  • Kid versions of games are good ways to keep your child thinking and learning.
  • Provide your child with materials to create his or her own board game.

Flash Cards

  • Create flash cards by using easy to find materials, such as index cards and markers, or purchase preassembled sets.
  • Consider flash cards that will promote memorization of basic math facts, states and capitols, uppercase/lowercase letters, and sight vocabulary.

Art Supplies

  • Make basic art supplies available.
  • Origami, drawing, painting and craft books are available at your library.
  • After your child has read a story ask him or her to illustrate the main idea.

Writing Supplies

  • Provide a blank book or allot computer time to encourage journal writing.
  • Let your child’s writing run free, or provide daily topics to get started and spark imagination.

2. Get Involved in Summer Learning

Include children in household activities

  • While doing chores practice vocabulary and measuring skills.
  • Errands can provide opportunities to implement a budget and calculate discounts.

Pay attention to questions and comments

  • Do research together. With your enthusiasm, you set an example for a lifetime love of learning.
  • Build off your child’s innate interests.

Plan a family vacation together

  • Teach your child to read a map and calculate distances.
  • Allow your child to be in charge of his or her own vacation budget.

Follow current events

  • Keep your eye out for local festivals, art shows and sporting events to attend.
  • Read and discuss what’s going on in the news or a new family-friendly movie release.

3. Calculate Math Into the Equation

Engage in math-related activities

  • This can help build your child’s awareness of the importance of mathematics in their daily lives.
  • Ideas include: making estimations, reading clocks and schedules, and measuring distances or quantities.

4. Enroll Your Child in an Educational Program

Identify a program that can offer individualized instruction

  • Programs can meet the needs of students struggling in specific skill areas or looking for enrichment.
  • Positive reinforcement and instant success are crucial for building confidence.

5. Dive Into Your Community

Library

  • Librarians are available to assist with reading selections.
  • Let your child choose books he or she wants to read!
  • Look for special summer reading programs that may motivate your child.

Museums

  • Keep your eye out for exhibits that may interest your child.
  • Look on museum websites for organized events in which the entire family can participate.

Parks

  • Take books with you to identify what you find in nature: trees, birds, butterflies, animal tracks, etc.
  • Create obstacle courses or relay races and have children time and chart their speeds.

Zoos

  • Let your children practice reading the signage to learn about the animals.
  • Allow your child to take or draw pictures.

By implementing these 5 Action Steps for Summer Learning, your child can go back to school in the fall prepared for the lessons and be well ahead of the curve. Plus, your child will enjoy learning during the summer if you make it fun, utilize the resources available in your community, and show enthusiasm for the learning process. Learning shouldn’t stop because summer is here!

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