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Summer Learning Loss & How to Prevent It

What is Summer Learning Loss? 

Also known as ‘summer setback’ or the ‘summer slide,’ summer learning loss is the term assigned when students return to school after their summer break at a lower academic level than they left the previous academic year. 

Over the course of the summer holidays, many students lose access to educational materials/stimulants which prevents them from making learning gains. Instead, these students switch off from all academic study in the summer, which usually results in a loss of learned information and a decline in academic progress.

The Facts

According to research, between 27-50% of the yearly progress made in mathematics learning is lost over summer (NWEA). 

It is also takes 9/10 teachers at least three weeks working to re-teach lessons from the previous academic year (NSLA).

This means that by the time students reach 5th grade, they could have already lost 18 months of learning due to summer learning loss. (ThinkStretch)

However, research does suggest that students with high levels of attendance in voluntary summer learning programs experience benefits in maths and reading.’ (NSLA)

How to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

One of the most effective ways of ensuring your child doesn’t succumb to summer learning loss is to consider enrolling them into an academic summer course

Spending a few weeks in a residential summer school where they are immersed in exciting academic and cultural experiences will not only help in preventing summer learning loss, but will also build on their knowledge of a chosen subject, all whilst ensuring they experience plenty of fun and enriching extracurricular activities. 

However, if this isn’t an option for you, there are plenty of other ways you as an individual could help to prevent summer learning loss:

  • Request a reading list - As a parent or student, you could ask your teacher to provide you with a reading list which includes the topics you/your child has learned this year, as well as some new material around topics that will be covered next year, to gently ease you into the next syllabus. 
  • Educational day activities - For parents, the National PTA recommends you and your child participate in summer activities that encourage active learning, such as conducting a nature scavenger hunt, visiting a zoo or a museum. It also encourages students to keep a summer journal, to keep their minds active and engaged. 
  • Board Games - It’s important to keep the learning fun so students remain engaged, and research has suggested that young children can improve their understanding of numbers by playing certain board games. (Mazzococo, 2011) So if you find yourself stuck with a rainy day next summer holiday, why not dust off the board games and enjoy learning together?
  • Use End of Term Reports as a Guidance - Take a look at what your child’s summer end of year report says and use it as a guide over what you can try to help your child to improve over the summer. If something doesn’t make sense or you’re unsure how you can help, don’t be afraid to ask your child’s teacher about what you can be doing at home over the summer to try and better themselves.
  • Challenges - Children love to participate in tournaments and challenges, so what better way to get them doing some academic work than to challenge them? Whether you start a reading, journaling or even times table competition, it’s an exciting way to get both you and your child doing some extra learning over the summer.

Ready to apply for Oxford Summer Courses?

For a once in a lifetime experience, join us for summer 2023 where you can discover over 40 academic subjects taught by expert tutors. You’ll also meet other like-minded individuals from around the world and make friends for life! Apply today and choose from 3 stunning locations; Oxford, Cambridge and London.

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Prevent summer learning loss: Enroll in an academic summer course or engage in educational activities. Play board games, use end-of-term reports as guidance, and set academic challenges.

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