Summer learning loss is real and can be a serious problem, but it doesn’t have to affect your child.
Practical Insights from Dr. Stewart Burgess: Understanding how the brain works can help you protect your child from summer learning loss.
Researchers have studied this topic for years, documenting average losses that can be disheartening. In recent large-scale research by the University of Colorado-Boulder and RAND Corporation (American Educational Research Journal, July 2020) tracking 200 million test scores across 7,500 school districts, some were found to continue to gain knowledge and skills during the break, while others lost nearly all the progress made during the school year. Environmental factors such as parental expectations and involvement in children’s summer learning appear to be among the influences preventing students from loss.
So, take this summer and make it count. Simply arranging regular academic work times and showing interest in your children’s efforts can protect the knowledge they have worked to acquire. Something as simple as a journal can get them off to a good start. Whether your children are only old enough to label a drawing of going to the park with a “P” or old enough to write a detailed and descriptive page, this can make a big difference in creating a pattern of growth rather than decline. By asking your children about their work, you are giving them attention and emphasizing the importance of their tasks. Read together daily and take advantage of down times in the car or waiting in restaurants to play Eye Spy, mental math games, or create stories together. And if you want to help your children get ahead for the next academic year, inquire about upcoming skills and start with some strategic practice. If, for example, you find that multiplication tables are on the list, start memorizing them early. When children come back to school and find they already know some of that “hard stuff,” they gain confidence in their learning abilities giving parents and teachers opportunities to congratulate them on their efforts and successes. Good luck, and remember, even a little bit of regular work that is brief and fun can make a difference in securing your children’s futures.