Summer Learning Loss
In the eyes of a child, summer break means no more early bedtimes, homework and long days in class. Kids dream and fantasize about playing with their friends and limited daily expectations, and at the same time, parents can take a break from checking over homework and the morning rush. While summer break should be a time to relax and have a little fun, it should not be a complete break from learning.
Just because your child is moving on to the next grade, it does not mean they will retain everything they learned over the past year. If we remembered everything we learned throughout our lives, then we wouldn’t need to use Google to search up random facts we can’t remember! As the saying goes, use it or lose it.
The Reality of Summer Learning Loss
Nearly all students show a decline in test scores from the beginning of summer compared to the end of summer. On average, students lose:
- 2.6 months of math computations skills
- 1 to 2 months of reading skills
Students show declines in all core subjects, but learning loss is more significant in math computation and spelling. This is likely due to the factual nature of these subjects, as factual information is more easily forgotten if not practiced regularly. Additionally, parents are more likely to enforce continued reading over the summer as compared to spelling and math. Though some students suffer from summer learning loss more than others, a continued focus on education should be an integral part of summer break. Boys Town Behavioral Health recommends the following strategies.
Strategies to Stay Ahead of Summer Learning Loss
Get a Head Start. If your child struggled significantly over the past school year, summer is the best time to try to address these concerns. Do not wait until the next year and instead, get a jump start on learning concerns.
Engage. Promote learning at all times and place a priority on skill maintenance by integrating learning and teaching into daily experiences to foster curiosity. Focus on the basics of reading, math, and spelling for at least 30 minutes a day; especially if your child is in elementary school. For older children, focus on the areas in which they struggled and add in daily or weekly reviews. Answer questions by working and researching together to find answers. Check community calendars, look into activities at the public library, and find grade-level workbooks and activities on the Internet.
- Summer School and Learning Programs. If you think summer school may benefit your child, talk to your child’s teacher to see if he or she qualifies and if your school offers a summer program. Other learning programs are also available, like the
Boys Town Learning Academy, where the focus on remediation of learning problems through individualized interventions are developed by a staff of school psychologists. Call (531) 355-3358 for more information.
The Learning Academy: Summer Learning Loss
Summer Learning Loss is a longstanding phenomenon where kids start school in August one to two months behind where they left school in May. We notice that it becomes worse actually for spelling and math than it is for reading. When kids actually do read over the summer, they will make gains. Kids who don't, they'll lose the one to two months. Spelling and math is worse because people don't really work on that over the summer. They don't practice it. Parents don't emphasize it. So they start out one to two sometimes even more than two months behind where they left school in May.
At what age is this a concern?
Summer is an important time to continue learning rather than just taking a complete break from it. Kids might disagree, but I think kindergarten to seniors, they all need to stay engaged in learning, rather than taking a complete brain break.
What can parents do to help?
I'm not saying don't play and have fun and enjoy your summer, but also don't have it be completely free of learning. I think thirty minutes a day is sufficient, and try to emphasize some spelling and math in there. It's just some real practice. You can get some work books, work sheets, anything is online anymore. Making it part of a routine, this is just the expectation. This is what we do. It can be fun too. It doesn't have to be, ok you've got to come in from playing and sit here and do some math.
There are activities all throughout the city. Look at library calendars, the zoo or wherever you go there is learning anywhere, so if you make it fun and incorporate it in they are going to be fine.
How can the Learning Academy help?
The Boys Town Learning Academy offers two different services, and we are in operation through the academic year and through summer so those two services are always available. The two services are skills training, so we really focus on those foundational skills getting kids caught up with reading, writing, spelling and math. The other service is tutoring and that's more standard. Bring in your homework. Bring in what you're working on or maybe what you struggled with last year. Our sessions are an hour long so kids can come two to three times a week and I think that would be sufficient.