When summer break is on the horizon and the last few days of the school year approach, many kids start dreaming about leisure time, freedom from homework and responsibilities and long days spent relaxing in the sun with friends. The problem is that while summer is a great opportunity for kids to take a break and recharge, they don’t need months to do this.
In fact, the extended break actually does more harm than good, and results in a process known as summer learning loss. There are many reasons why this is detrimental, especially for kids who are preparing for college, so it’s important that parents encourage their kids to continue their studies— especially math and reading—throughout the summer months.
Summer Learning Loss in Reading and Math
Over the summer holidays, school children lose an average of two to three months’ worth of knowledge in certain subjects, particularly math and reading. As a testament to this, students perform worse on tests taken at the end of summer versus ones taken at the beginning. The reason is because humans learn best when education is continuous and without extended pauses.
Worse yet, these learning losses are cumulative; meaning a student finishing high school will have lost a great deal more knowledge due to extended summers than a child who’s only a few years into school.
Effects of Lost Knowledge
One of the most noticeable effects of summer learning loss is that teachers spend upwards of six weeks at the beginning of every new school year reviewing material from the previous year, rather than picking up where they left off. This can lead to children being bored and apathetic, and this is never a good way for children to approach their education.
Children who are bored or who don’t care about school aren’t likely to excel academically, and this can impact the rest of their lives, including whether they can attend college and what kinds of job opportunities are open to them.
Creative Ways to Encourage Summer Learning
While most children won’t want to spend extra time during their summer holiday focused on school, there are ways that parents can make summer learning more fun and enjoyable. For one, ask your child to keep a daily journal in which to chronicle events, write a continuing story, or practice other writing techniques that will fend off summer learning loss for literacy.
You can also start a book club with your child, where each of you reads the same book over a one- or two-week period, and at the end of the time you can get together to discuss things like theme, plot, the characters, and how you enjoyed the story. And along with being a vital life skill and a great way to spend quality time together, cooking is also an excellent way to keep up your child’s reading and math skills, thanks to things like recipes, grocery lists, ingredient quantities, and measurements.
Many Littleton child behavior psychologists have seen what happens when kids aren’t challenged at school, and this includes poor academic performance, behavioral problems, and disruptive behavior in the classroom. One easy way to prevent learning loss is to encourage your child to participate in educational activities during the summer months, particularly as they apply to reading and math.
The good news is that summertime affords many opportunities for parents to encourage fun, unique, and engaging methods of learning that will help kids retain the information they worked so hard to learn during the school year.