The end of the school year is almost here, and students are pushing through finals to reach summer break. While summer provides a much-needed break at the end of a long school year, it also brings with it summer learning loss. A May 2020 study published by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University examined the NWEA’s Map Growth data for first through eighth grade students. This study, entitled “School’s out: The role of summers in understanding achievement disparities,” reported two major findings. First, that “the average student lost 17–34% of the prior year’s learning gains during summer break.” Secondly, students who lose the previous school year’s learning gains in one summer are more likely to experience learning loss in following summers. Consequently, this blog will provide suggestions as to how students can use summer productively, prepare themselves for the new school year, and help prevent learning loss.
Start at Home
If they don’t have one already, set aside a particular study space for your student. We recommend that this learning space be outside of their bedroom. Separating working and sleeping areas can help winding down and sleeping routines during the school year. Or, perhaps the space your student was working in this past year hasn’t been particularly productive for them. Now is the perfect time to reset and find a better spot for them! Additionally, back to school sales are also a great time to buy extra paper, pencils, binders, notebooks, and any other supplies they might need. Plan to store these supplies near their designated workspace so that everything they need is nearby when they work!
You can also read more about creating better home routines for students here.
Build Good Time Management
Get students ready to start the school year with good habits! Buying a planner and getting kids used to using them can help set them up for success. Especially for middle school students, getting into the habit of using a journal or planner to keep track of playdates and fun activities can help establish these skills for the school year. This allows students to practice more autonomy and independence during a time when missing appointments holds lower stakes than during the school year.
Keeping decent sleeping and waking hours will help students, too; aim not to stray too far from term-time sleeping and waking hours so that the adjustment is easier.
Summer Enrichment at Home: ELA
Enrichment activities are a key way to slow and prevent learning loss. Summer school or summer camps are a traditional standby to keep students’ brains working and learning over the summer. However, there are also activities the whole family can enjoy at home, too!
Involving the whole family in activities can help motivate students and keep them engaged throughout the summer. For instance, you might consider setting aside reading time during the afternoons where everyone reads together. Encouraging elementary school students, especially, to read aloud every day is an excellent way to develop their language skills. Additionally, playing daily games and puzzles—like Wordle or sudoku—together exercises logic, vocabulary, and patience.
Students of all ages can keep up-to-date with the news reading articles tailored to their Lexile reading level through the website Newsela. The site rewrites current news articles at adjustable reading levels for students of all ages.
If you go on vacation or take any interesting trips over the summer, you might encourage your children to use a journal to write down memorable moments and keep a log of the journey. A daily writing journal is a great way for students to practice writing skills.
Summer Enrichment at Home: Math and Languages
Some past research has indicated that math skills decline faster than reading skills. A popular game for elementary-middle school students is the math game Prodigy, in which players solve math problems to cast spells as a wizard-in-training on a quest. Websites like Khan Academy also have skill reviews that students can use to maintain the previous year’s skills, though parent encouragement may be needed to keep up the math practice over the summer.
If your child is competitive, apps like Duolingo, which include rewards for sustained daily practice, can help them stay engaged and focused on learning. This can help them upkeep their knowledge of a language they learn for school, like Spanish, French, or Chinese.
Personalized Summer Programs
However, if you’d like a more structured and tailored at-home summer program for your student, we can create an individualized curriculum to help your student overview the material from last year and preview next year’s material. We hope these tips on how students can use summer productively have been helpful to you! If you would like any personalized advice or program for your student, please reach out to us!