5 Ways to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

Summer is an important time for kids and students to recharge from a challenging school year. But while they spend time decompressing, sometimes progress can unfortunately swing in the opposite direction, leading to the dreaded “summer slide.” Find the balance between letting your kids have a well-deserved break while also preventing summer learning loss with our helpful tips for encouraging summer studying and reading. 

What Is the “Summer Slide”?

“Summer slide” refers to the potential learning loss over summer that is experienced by students due to being away from school and other educational opportunities. Also referred to as “summer lag” or “summer learning loss,” summer slide has been a subject of concern for parents and teachers since 1996, when this phenomenon was first formally studied. According to findings from those studies(opens in a new tab)

  • Summer slide equaled the same amount of learning loss as missing about one month of school on a grade-level equivalent scale. 
  • The effect of summer learning loss was more detrimental for math than for reading, and most detrimental for math computation and spelling. 
  • Summer slide has a greater effect on low-to-moderate income students and families.  

A girl playing before starting her summer break study plan.

5 Ways to Combat Summer Slide and Summer Learning Loss in Students 

The best way to counteract the summer slide and keep students prepared for the next school year is to find creative ways to practice reading, writing, and even math. Here are some of our favorite suggestions for helping students with learning, growing, and studying during summer break. 

1. Encourage non-school-related summer reading.  

According to the Colorado Department of Education(opens in a new tab), “When children select reading materials themselves and read for enjoyment, they receive the most gains in reading achievement, including better reading comprehension, writing style, vocabulary, spelling, and grammatical development.” So, a wonderful way to prevent summer reading loss is by encouraging your child to select books on topics and subjects that they want to learn about. Fiction or non-fiction, science or history, ghost stories or mystery books—any subject is a good subject when it comes to reading over the summer! 

2. Find a summer reading program.

Many libraries offer summer reading programs, specifically with the goal of combatting summer lag and gamifying reading and studying during summer for students of all ages. These programs will vary by library or location, but the overall intention is typically the same: to make reading a fun activity for students and even offer prizes or rewards for hitting certain summer reading goals. A creative way to combat summer slide, education and support from libraries is easy to access and engaging for students of all ages.  

3. Turn summer vacations into learning experiences. 

Another great way to create a summer learning plan for students is by using a planned summer vacation or trip as a topic of study. For example, if you are planning to visit a new city, find a few books set in that city or even reference videos to share with your kids to get excited about the trip. If you’re taking a road trip, use the mileage as an opportunity to present your child with some fun math-related challenges, like calculating time between road stops based on miles to travel and miles per hour. Or, if you’re visiting a specific museum exhibit, encourage your kids to research the topic ahead of time so they can ask the museum experts lots of questions! 

A girl studying during summer break.

4. Turn to the outdoors for learning inspiration. 

The summer months bring with them several new seasonal experiences and activities—all of which are ripe for learning about! If your child starts swimming lessons, that’s a great opportunity to offer biographies of the lives of Olympic swimmers. If you go on hikes together outside in the summer, find some guidebooks to help your child identify any wildlife or plants you may encounter. The possibilities for learning are endless, and you never know what interests may be piqued.  

5. Follow a summer break study plan.

If you’re looking for a simple, proven way to make sure your students don’t fall victim to summer slide, there are tons of great resources online to keep kids engaged and moving forward over the summer months, especially in the subjects of math and spelling. Online summer school(opens in a new tab) is a flexible, accessible way to prevent summer learning loss, and even give your child a leg up (and a confidence boost) heading into the upcoming school year! Learn more about Connections Academy’s many online school programs here.(opens in a new tab)  

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