Worried your kids would forget everything they’ve learned away from school over the summer months? According to a report by Dr. Harris Cooper of Duke University, a leading expert on the loss of summer learning, you might have more justification than you thought to fear the summer brain drain. He writes that long summer vacations “break the flow of learning, contribute to forgetting, and demand a considerable amount of analysis when students return to school in the fall.” According to Cooper’s report, the overall achievement test scores for students drop by about a month, on average, over summer vacations. Math and spelling skills typically take the biggest losses, with math skills enduring nearly a 2.6-month drop in achievement.
Most suffering are children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, who have less opportunities to practice math and reading skills than their more affluent peers during the summer months. Their reading comprehension skills struggle the most, and by the time they enter their middle school years their setbacks add up to a 2 year achievement gap.
There are steps parents can take to help their kids learn and even succeed through the summer months. These “Summer Learning Tips” will help turn the break from formal learning into an opportunity for learners to sharpen their skills in fun and engaging ways. Follow these tips and send your kids back to school more comfortably and smarter than they had left!
- Make frequent trips to the library and use a library card to register your kids. Richard Allington of the University of Florida states that the best predictor of loss of summer reading is a lack of homemade books and limited access to library books, so keep a good selection of high interest, level suitable books around the house. Schedule your child a regular “reading time” everyday.
- Attend Library thematic events. Libraries also feature a wide variety of children’s summer programs, celebrating literacy.
- Speak to the teachers of your child, and ask them what your child will be learning at school next year. This way you can tie up a more practical hands-on experience in family trips with next year’s curriculum. If your child is researching a civil war unit for example, plan a visit to Gettysburg.
- Give your child a supermarket gift card, or give them books as presents.
- Check out library audio books to hear your child’s stories in the car.
- Consider summer tutoring: tutoring programs, such as home tutoring, will help kids catch up or get ahead with home-based one-on – one tutoring. Take advantage of the summer months to fix or speed up your child in areas such as reading comprehension, math, writing, or SAT / ACT test preparation.
- Research has revealed a direct connection between learning how to play a musical instrument and growing mathematical aptitude. Consider introducing your child to summertime music lessons.