Ten tips for combatting ‘summer learning loss’

How can parents ensure that children keep the learning momentum of the previous academic year going when school’s out for the summer? We take a look at how to combat ‘summer learning loss’.

Ten tips for combatting ‘summer learning loss’
It is a common concern for parents over the long summer holidays that children’s learning stalls and – at worst – deteriorates. In fact, some studies equate the summer months to a learning loss of one month or more depending on the subject (notably maths and reading).But it is not all doom and gloom; there are many ways that a child can develop over the summer through fun activities and time out of school. We take a look at how to keep the brain sparks flying.

Ten tips to keep children learning

Summer learning can be grouped into three broad categories: enrolment-based programs such as summer camps, drop-in programs like the library and at-home learning that can take place anytime and anywhere.The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) – a US organisation that works to encourage investment in summer learning – and Learning Heroes worked together to create ten top tips which will help parents to make learning fun during the long summer.
  1. Make a simple plan: Look at your child’s grades and pay attention to how easy or hard it is for them to do grade-level activities. Go to www.bealearninghero.org for a simple 3-step plan to help set your child up for success in the new school year.
  2. Promote real-world skills: Encourage life-skills that help your child in and out of the classroom. Show your child how to problem-solve, learn from mistakes, and how to communicate effectively with others, especially in tough situations.
  3. Let them show what they know! Summer is about having fun and exploring your child’s interests. As your child reads, plays an educational app, or during everyday moments at home, ask them to teach what they’ve learned and what they enjoyed or didn’t. This will help them review important skills and help build their confidence!
  4. Find the fun (and free) in your community: There are places and spaces to learn all around you. Check out recreation and parks or library programs that have academic support and activities for children. Visit a zoo or museum to explore new interests. Plan a day trip – find a nearby park or historical place you’ve never been to and talk about what you want to learn during your visit. Be sure to ask about local discounts for admission or scholarships for summer programmes.
  5. Read every day: Whether doing it at home, at a library, or even while visiting a beach or park, reading can be a joyful escape. The UK’s Summer Reading Challenge (this year Dennis the Menace themed!) is an easy (and free) way to encourage children to keep reading throughout the summer. The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge is another free, online reading program where students can unlock digital rewards as they complete weekly reading challenges. Visit https://www.scholastic.com/summer/home/
  6. Have fun with numbers and science: Add a little math to summer reading fun. Asking your child to follow a baking recipe, or calculate how much time it will take to get to an activity are creative ways to practice maths skills. Children are naturally inquisitive – from collecting rocks or rose petals; making ice cubes and then watching them melt, making volcanoes out of clay, or making a sound sandwich using ice pop sticks, rubber bands and a straw, science fun is everywhere.
  7. Make art…and music: Whether it’s painting a picture, composing a song or constructing musical instruments out of cardboard, let the summer months be the time when your child discovers a joy of creative expression. For those in the US, children ages 4–18 can enter the Lands’ End Love Learning Art Contest until 12 August for a chance to win a cash prize.
  8. Get moving and eat healthily: Go for a walk, learn to swim, play in the sun, and go for a bike ride or run. Start simple with a tomato container garden or fresh herbs grown on your kitchen windowsill. It’s a great way to encourage healthy eating with your child.
  9. Manage screen time: Experts generally say that it’s ok for children to use screen time in a limited way as long as they are supervised. There are many self-paced and free online learning programmes that support skill development in many subjects.
  10. Finally…keep good habits! Keep a bedtime routine. It’s ok for your child to stay up a bit later in the summer but it’s still very important to maintain a regular bedtime and routine. For example, if you read a bedtime story to your child during the school year, then read a bedtime story during the summer. And remember most children need a good eight hours of sleep a night. 

International Guide to Education & Schools 2017
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