Let’s start with the facts on summer learning loss:
- All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer.
- In a survey of 500 teachers by the National Summer Learning Association, 66% of teachers polled reported that it takes them at least three to four weeks to reteach the previous year’s skills at the beginning of a new school year.
- In general, students are more likely to forget what they have learned in mathematics over the summer than they are to lose literacy skills. (Making Summer Count, RAND Corporation, 2011.)
Research also shows that small doses of basic skill practice will keep minds sharp over the summer months. In research on learning, it was determined that “spaced practice (once a day for several days) as opposed to one long, concentrated lesson (all day long for just one day) appears to be more effective in facilitating learning.” (Making Summer Count, RAND Corporation, 2011.)
Top 10 favorite ideas for summer learning experiences:
As a parent of three children, I’ve been met with groans at the suggestion of schoolwork during the summer. However, learning can be “disguised” as summer fun, and basic skill practice can be presented in spaced practice over summer days.
- Collect piles of good books and make time to read! Libraries, used-book stores, and thrift stores can provide new reading material.
- Enroll in summer reading programs at your local library, or encourage your children to keep a reading log of books.
- Be a tourist in your town and visit museums, parks, and interesting sites. Make a “wish list” of activities to do with your children.
- Help children create and write a blog about summer adventures. This Pinterest site provides sources for helping kids create their own blog.
- Make a journal so that children can write or draw pictures about the events of a given day or week, or write reviews about favorite books, movies, and outings.
- Get creative and try new arts and crafts or cooking projects, having your child take the lead in reading directions, gathering supplies, and applying math in measurements. Our favorite projects have been making ice cream from scratch and making soap! This blog provides ideas on using math in the kitchen with young children.
- Plant a small vegetable, herb, or flower garden. This website offers many ideas and activities for family gardening activities, including making a “seed bomb,” a windowsill herb garden, and a rainbow fruit salad.
- Create an obstacle course outside. Have children plan a design on paper, and then build the course together.
- Limit “screen” time (TV, computers, iPads, and other electronic gadgets).
- And, most importantly, set aside small periods of time for reading and practice of basic skills (activity books and flashcards are a great resource).
If you’re interested in summer activity books for enrichment, I recommend Evan-Moor’s Daily Summer Activities—from first-hand experience! I’ve used Daily Summer Activities books with my children and appreciate the teacher-developed activities that review all the core skills in reading, math, writing, language arts, and science. The variety of activities and full-color pages present basic skill practice in an activity book format.
We are interested in hearing how you keep learning alive over the summer months. Please share your ideas!
Theresa Wooler has more than 10 years’ experience in K–6 classrooms as a parent volunteer, has taught high school English, and is currently involved in education through Evan-Moor’s marketing communications team.