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A Common Pitfall of Summer Break - Summer Learning Loss

Kids Reading

​​​By Amanda B. Setlak, Ph.D.

In the eyes of a child, summer break means no more early bedtimes, homework ​or long days in class. Kids dream and fantasize about playing with their friends and limited daily expectations. At the same time, parents hope for a break from checking over homework and the morning rush. While summer break should be a time to relax and have a little fun, it should not be a complete break from learning.

Just because your child is moving on to the next grade does not mean they will retain everything they learned over the past year. If we remembered everything we learned throughout our lives, then we wouldn’t need to use Google to search random facts we can’t remember! As the saying goes, use it or lose it.

You can keep your children’s brains learning and active this summer by adopting a few strategies, outlined below.

Stay Ahead of Summer Learning Loss

  • Get a Head Start. If your child struggled significantly over the past school year, then summer is the best time to try to address these concerns. Do not wait until the next year; instead, get a jump start on learning concerns.
  • Engage. Promote learning at all times and place a priority on skill maintenance by integrating learning and teaching into your child’s daily experiences to foster their curiosity. Focus on the basics of reading, math and spelling for at least 30 minutes a day — especially if your child is in elementary school.  These fun summer ​learning cards are great for grades K–3 and will flex their mental muscles and inspire creativity. For older children, try these learning cards for grades 4-6. Additionally, you can focus on the areas in which they struggled and add daily or weekly reviews. Answer questions by working and researching together to find answers, check community calendars and look into activities at the public library, and find grade-level workbooks and activities on the internet.
  • Summer School and Learning Programs. If you think summer school may benefit your child, talk to your child’s teacher to see whether your child qualifies and if your school offers a summer program. Other learning programs are also available, like the Boys Town Learning Academy, where the focus on remediation of learning problems through individualized interventions are developed by a staff of school psychologists.