5 ways to stop Summer Learning Loss

What is Summer learning loss? Is that even a real thing? I did not know about Summer learning loss until after my first year of teaching. I noticed that the pupils that came up to me would look glazed over when I asked them about concepts that I expected them to know from the previous class. The worst of all was with maths.
As I asked more experienced teachers, I became aware of this ‘loss’ that happens over the long summer holiday. In some places, it is described as the ‘learning dip’ or ‘summer slide’.
So is this ‘dip’ or ‘loss’ real? Yes it is! “Summer learning loss” is well documented in the US, primarily because their summer holidays are almost 12 weeks long! Some studies have shown that pupils can regress by up to two months in their learning! I feel one week is a long time to be away from continuous learning, talk less of 12 weeks! Children can forget what they have learnt over the summer.
I do support that pupils and of course, teachers need a break from the daily grind of school work and classroom routine, plus children need time to play and explore. However, if pupils are resuming school in September with much lower achievement levels, then something needs to be done.
What can be done to reduce this loss?
The fact that school’s out for summer should not mean that learning must be out too! After all, the brain does not go to sleep in the summer. The thing is, if you do not use a skill you have learnt, you will likely lose that skill. So, here are some ideas:
1. Plan for learning. I find the best way to do this is to set a challenge with the children. For example, set up a daily summer reading challenge or a daily times tables challenge. It is the holidays; each day can blend into the next and the next. Before you know it, it is September and a new school year starts. So be deliberate about what learning needs to take place on a daily basis.
2. Enrol children for a summer school or camp. There are so many out there including some free ones. I recommend that you choose one that has some academic learning blended with hands-on or recreational activities. Summer programs should not be all summer long as children do need time to rest!
3. Read up! I mentioned this earlier. Did you know that reading about six books over the summer can keep a struggling reader from regressing! Allow children to read materials of interest. It may be football magazines, comic books, chapter books, fiction books, newspapers, information on the internet etc. If you have a local library, take advantage of it. If you have reading or book clubs, take advantage of these. If you have older children, you can encourage them to start a reading club themselves!
4. Make every moment a learning moment. Are you going on a road trip? Ask the children to keep a tally of the type of cars they see. Trips to the supermarkets are best! From counting, adding, subtraction and spotting the difference, there is so much learning that can take place in a supermarket.
5. Play games. I know there is the ‘Fornite’ debacle to contend with, (plus the jury is out and I am on the fence!). I am thinking more of encouraging classic games like monopoly, card games, scrabble, sudoku etc. These games keep the mind stimulated whilst encouraging maths and spelling skills.
Here is a final challenge, try something totally NEW this summer. Get the children to do something they have never done before.
What will it be?

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