After a long school year, summer break can be a sweet relief to school-aged children. The time off with friends and family offers children a chance to develop relationships, relax, and make lifelong memories.
Unfortunately, if students don't take the time to reinforce and practice what they've learned over the past year, they may experience what's colloquially known as "the summer slide."
What Is Summer Learning Loss?
The summer slide is also known as summer learning loss. Skills and knowledge acquired over the last academic year don't simply stand still while your child takes a break from school; in fact, they erode.
Between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next, children can easily lose progress they made over the past year. This problem is especially pronounced in children who come from low-income households, the reason being a lack of resources. The learning gap between social classes widens much faster during the summer than during the school year. However, most children show some form of summer learning loss when they return for the next school year.
Teachers across all subjects usually spend about 6 weeks reteaching students the material learned the year before in order to prepare them to learn new things. As a result, students often lose around 2.6 months' worth of math skills and 2 months of reading skills.
Each summer, some students fall farther and farther behind. By the end of sixth grade, students who have repeatedly experienced summer learning loss can be about two years behind.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Summer Learning Loss?
Of course, it's important for kids to have time to be kids, develop social skills, and enjoy their summer. However, a little effort can go a long way toward keeping your children's learning development on track while school is not in session.
Students should dedicate around two to three hours a week to active learning in order to avoid the summer slide. There are several ways to help your children keep up their knowledge and skills.
Reading is an excellent cost-effective combatant to summer learning loss. According to a study done by James Kim of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, reading four to five books over the course of a summer can prevent a child's reading skills from dropping while school is out. This holds true across the family income spectrum.
Your local library can supply a wide selection of books for your child to read regardless of age or reading level. Allow your children to pick books that interest them so as to encourage them to willingly take up the challenge.
A habit of reading can help your child improve in several academic subjects, but the best approach to preventing summer learning loss is a well-rounded approach.
How Can I Prevent Summer Learning Loss Across Subjects?
You don't have to be a master in all subjects in order to help your children (of all ages) continue to learn throughout the summer. The following eight resources can give your children the practice they need to maintain, or even improve, their academic skills while on break.
- Adapted Mind: This website provides grade-appropriate exercises in reading and math up to an 8th-grade level. As your child improves, the difficulty level increases.
- Education.com: Education.com provides worksheets that accommodate students from preschool to high school.
- ReadWriteThink: This website provides learning resources for all students from kindergarten to high school. It offers podcasts, printouts, games, and more.
- Woo!: Your younger children will love the summer activity worksheets this website provides. You can even bring the printables along on car trips.
- TeacherVision: Fight brain drain with these summer worksheets on every subject, including math, science, art, drama, and social studies.
- Scholastic: Scholastic offers printable worksheets sorted by grade level and subject.
- K5 Learning: K5 Learning provides worksheets for elementary-aged students to practice vocabulary, grammar, cursive, math, and more.
- Code Academy: Learning new skills will stretch your student's mind, which allows him or her to do better across subjects. Code Academy teaches students as young as 12 a valuable new skill—coding.
Summer Can Be Fun for Kids without Being a Step Back
There's no reason why summer can't be fun for your kids. So be sure to set aside plenty of time for family vacations and playing with friends, and include downtime to just let your kids be kids. As long as you're supplementing their summer activities with some educational content, they'll be both rejuvenated and prepared when school starts again in the fall.