Should Gifted Students Skip Summer Break?

5 min to read
Image of a young teen in a red shirt and jeans with a red helmut walking in the trees on a rope course using the ropes to help balance.

When summer break comes back around, some gifted students may be asking themselves, “Should I skip summer break?” or “Should I go to summer school?” Caregivers may also be wondering if skipping the typical summer break and enrolling their gifted student in summer school, enrichment programs, or other in-depth learning experiences over the summer instead of risking the summer slide would be beneficial or detrimental to their student long-term. 

While we can’t make that decision for you, we can go over some options so families and their students can find the best way to spend their summer break for them.

Should I Skip Summer Break?

There are several benefits to skipping summer break in favor of pursuing more formal learning opportunities:

1. Preventing “summer slide.”

Also known as “summer lag” or “summer learning loss,” the summer slide is learning loss that occurs when students are away from school or other educational experiences resulting in losing up to 34% of the prior year’s learning.

2. Getting ahead on coursework or graduating early.

If a student wants to skip a grade, graduate early from high school, or get a head start on college, then taking summer school courses can be a great opportunity for them. 

3. Participating in opportunities or extracurricular activities.

By using this time during the summer to explore new options like learning a new instrument, participating in community theater, or participating in a mentorship program, students can continually expand their world and learn new things that they may not have time for during the school year.

What to Consider Before Skipping Summer Break

Totally skipping relaxation and recharging time during the summer may not always be the best idea for your gifted student. Research finds that students need breaks and rest to avoid physical fatigue, mental exhaustion, and academic burnout. So, finding a balance between work and play during the summer is crucial for gifted students. How much of a break your student needs—whether a few hours each day or a few days — is up to you and your student. So, having an open discussion with your student may be beneficial here.

What is Summer School for Gifted Students?

Summer school is not just for students who need to recover course credits due to absences or low academic performance. It can also be a way for students to learn about topics that they don’t have time to pursue during the school year. Summer school can also allow gifted students to get ahead in their coursework, which is useful if they want to take advanced courses during the school year, or if they want to get a head start on college coursework. 

For example, there are dual enrollment programs available that allow high school students to earn high school and college credits simultaneously. These programs, and summer school in general, are particularly good for students who want to be intellectually engaged during the summer or who are naturally curious about the world. Learning doesn’t have to stop just because it’s summertime!  

Also, there are summer school programs, such as Pearson Online Academy’s affordable online courses, that allow students to get ahead in their coursework. Further, many colleges and K-12 schools offer summer school programs that speak to specific topics such as math camp, art, and creative writing classes. 

Alternative Summer Break Ideas for Gifted Students

If you would like to find a balance between a summer of relaxation or one full of structured learning, here are some summer learning opportunities to add to your gifted student’s summer break:

1. Start a summer reading challenge.

Work with your student to create a summer reading list. The reading list can be books that your student chooses, books on topics your student is interested in, classic books, books from your local library’s summer reading list, or a combination of all these options! The point is to get your student reading so that they continue to work on their grammatical, spelling, vocabulary, and reading comprehension skills.

2. Turn your summer travels into learning opportunities.

Consider using a summer vacation as an educational opportunity. You can visit museums, historical sites, aquariums, and other sites of historical or ecological significance. Your student can research these sites ahead of time to increase their anticipation and excitement about their impending visit. 

3. Pick a new skill to learn.

What has your student always wanted to learn but never had time to during the school year? What interests your student? You and your student can build your own curriculum to help them pace their learning about a new and interesting topic or skill. For example, if your student is interested in computers, then create a curriculum to help them learn basic computer coding skills through an age-appropriate coding bootcamp. Encourage your student to treat this as seriously as they treat their normal schoolwork and build in time each day for your student to do their “class.” You can even have a certificate of completion at the end of the summer.

Find Balance

While summer can be a time for exciting opportunities for gifted students, it’s important that all students find balance during the summer. You can mix important decompression time with learning opportunities and experiences during the summer. Your gifted student can explore possible careers, passions, and educational opportunities while still finding time to rest and recharge. This balance will help them avoid the summer slide while still creating a meaningful and productive summer.

E-guide for Connections Academy with a green background and a graphic of a laptop with the purple eGuide.

Ready to Learn More

About Connections Academy?

Explore the benefits of attending Connections Academy, a tuition-free, accredited online public school that’s passionate about helping your child thrive.  

Get Your Free eGuide


Related Posts