July 16, 2020

7+ Ways to Combat Summer Learning Loss

GoGuardian Team
Student reading a book on a green lawn

It’s no secret that summertime can be a challenge for parents. Parents of school-aged children still have to work to provide for their families, but those children need stimulation and entertainment. This loss of engagement while out of school for the summer months can be very damaging, and it’s known in the education world as summer learning loss. This lack of student involvement goes by many names: the summer slide, brain drain, the summer setback, and more. But it all equates to the same thing. We’ll cover what summer learning loss is and how to combat it below.

What Is Summer Learning Loss?

Summer learning loss is the degradation of the information learned throughout the school year, due to the long gap in learning. It’s the idea that lack of practice and introduction to new skills and information means a lapse in retention for most students. This phenomenon does not occur solely in American children, as one might think due to a longer-than-average summer break. Instead, it’s well-documented and studied across the globe. The National Summer Learning Association has even conducted a study on the impact of summer learning loss on students with an economic disadvantage. What they found was that it continues to propagate the economic disadvantage and can even widen the gap between privileged and less-privileged children.

Some studies show that children may lose anywhere from 20 to even 50 percent of the skills and information learned throughout the school year. It’s as if they’re taking two steps forward and one back. With that in mind, how do you prevent summer learning loss?

How to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

Discussions from both parents and educators have occurred to try and uncover changes to prevent the summer slide. Proposed solutions include extending school days, shortening the summer break, and required at-home work during the summer months. For some parents, turning to gamification and entertaining educational apps for their students is the answer. These online tools combine gaming and learning to keep kids engaged when outside of the classroom. However, educational apps are just one solution that may suit your child. Below we’ve compiled several options to help reverse and keep summer learning loss at bay.

Make the Most of the Library

One of the greatest advancements in public education was the implementation of public libraries. It was a wide movement to improve the intelligence of the general public through reading. Libraries give access to a wide variety of subjects and materials, most of which are free of charge. Some materials and resources are available online so that students can access library databases from home. Check your local library to see what resources and media are available to members.

Take Interest in Their Interests

Getting to know what your children are interested in and encouraging those interests is especially important during the summer months. For everything that you could be doing with your child in person, there’s probably an app or website to explore those interests. Say your child has an interest in space during the school year. Rather than physical space camp, free space projects by NASA can help keep your child engaged. You can even stargaze in the backyard while having a campout. If your young students love art, take a virtual museum tour of the best exhibits around the world.

Make Time for Learning

With busy schedules, it can be difficult to keep kids entertained, let alone engaged in learning activities. But when you cut out time each day specifically for a learning activity, it makes it easier for both you and your children. Scheduling this time helps to facilitate a routine and having them accomplish these tasks will feel second nature by the end of the summer. It can be something as simple as reading before bed, playing a math game online, or even practicing writing skills in a workbook. Another fun option parents have seen success with is having kids write down questions and looking up the answers together at the end of the day. This helps to get them curious about various subjects and learn how to do the appropriate research to find answers.

Buy or Make Challenge Calendars

These calendars consist of daily tasks or challenges for your children to complete that aim to improve their math, science, or reading comprehension. To create your own, parents can simply purchase a workbook and add specific pages for children to complete on your existing calendar. But if you want to make it interesting, consider tying in fun hands-on experiments, entertaining videos (classic Bill Nye is a great option), or clever craft projects.

Encourage Creativity

It doesn’t matter if it’s creative writing, painting, sculpting, or even make-believe filmmaking. Parents should aim to help kids find their creative spark. Children can lose their sense of imagination as they grow older, but it can be vital for critical thinking skills.

Implement Technology and Educational Apps

Technology for education is increasing rapidly. In 2016, the use of technology in the classroom was around 55 percent. There are huge benefits to using technology in the classroom, but the same can be said for using technology at home to supplement learning throughout the summer. Consider adding educational apps to your students’ tablets or phones to use when you’re unavailable for activities and studies.

Other Ideas for Reducing Summer Learning Loss

There are dozens of things you can do to improve a child’s learning experience throughout the summer and reduce the loss of their yearly education. This includes a few quick and easy-to-implement strategies, such as:

  • Focusing on specific skills and talents
  • Building a summer reading list
  • Setting aside time that they need to be away from technology to engage in hands-on learning activities
  • Considering STEM summer camps
  • Allowing kids to explore interests that they can’t during the school year
  • Creating a list throughout the school year of all the things they wish they could know more about, and use that as an itinerary for the summer

With the implementation of educational apps and other technology to help kids continue their education throughout the summer and lessen that learning loss, you run the risk of online exposure to inappropriate content, images, videos, and dark web games. You also run the risk of receiving spoofed emails and other phishing scams that children may not know how to spot before clicking on them. This could allow viruses and malware to enter your computer and download vital information.

Learn how to protect students in the classroom and at home with GoGuardian.