From the moment that last bell rings, and students across the country begin running out of schools with glee – ready to start their summer break – kids start idling their time away. They ditch their book bags in the closet so they can sleep, swim, watch TV, play video games, and take part in other activities that typically have little educational value. But when school rolls around again in the fall, their brain is a little rusty from all the inactivity. What is a parent to do? Here are some suggestions for preventing summer learning loss from Parenting Science.
Is Summer Learning Loss Really a Thing?
Yes, it is. Sometimes called the summer slide, summer learning loss happens when students begin to forget newly learned skills because they are not using them over the break. The phenomenon has been scientifically documented in the United States and multiple other countries around the world. Some studies suggest kids can lose between 25 percent and 50 percent of their school-year gains in math over the summer.
How to Prevent Summer Learning Loss
Kids can still play in the pool and even spend plenty of time playing on their devices or watching TV yet still find a little time to exercise their brain. Here are a few activities students can take part in that can help curb summer learning loss.
Summer Reading List. Kids should take part in a summer reading program that features books that interest them and challenges them. Experts recommend choosing books that introduce some new words and ideas to kids.
Practice Math Skills. Practicing math for as few as five minutes a day can help kids keep those skills fresh. There are several computer games and apps that students can use so it can be fun.
Unplugged Number Games. Another way to work on math skills is to play certain board games. For instance, Sum Swamp is a game that helps kids work on basic addition and subtraction.
Spatial Skills. Conducting experiments that can hone a student’s spatial skills typically leads to better performance in math and science.
Trip to the Zoo. Taking a trip to a zoo, museum, or similar attraction is ideal for giving kids an opportunity to engage in hands-on activities.
STEM Camps. Science, technology, engineering, and math – STEM for short – are critical skills kids will need for success in today’s modern world. Camps that offer skills such as building, coding, robotics, or science labs give students the opportunity to tinker and solve problems themselves.
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Camps at Home
Not everyone can afford to sign up for summer camp. There are still opportunities, however. Through a nonprofit organization called Reading Rockets people can get materials to create their own five-day DIY program called River Rangers. The program helps kids learn about the formation of rivers, ecosystems, and the management of human drinking water.
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