Learning loss during summer break has been a concern of educators and parents for decades. Summer brain drain is a real thing, with the average student losing up to 34 percent of the prior year’s learning gains during the long break.1
“Fortunately, there is a lot that parents can do to keep their kids engaged and learning all summer,” said Shellie Hanes, superintendent of schools at Learn4Life, a network of public high schools that offers personalized instruction and extra support for students who are falling behind. “One idea is to have kids research and create a budget for a family vacation considering sightseeing, activities and shopping they will want to do.”
Studies show that while most students experience a loss of reading skills over the summer months – especially those in higher grades – children who continue to read instead gain skills. That’s what Learn4Life graduate Aurora E. did to keep her brain in practice over long breaks.
“Since I have a lot more time on my hands during the summer, I take advantage of slower mornings to read, and it doesn’t have to be factual books. Summer is the time to read fun books,” said Aurora.
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Another recent graduate, Aspen A. points out, “There are a lot of non-school-related things to do this summer to keep learning, like exploring things outdoors, watching short educational videos on YouTube or listening to podcasts. Music works all parts of the brain – I play the guitar, which really helps me with my concentration.”
Learn4Life offers these additional tips for parents and students to stay engaged and interested in learning all summer:
- Keep a journal. It’s a great way to remember how you were feeling, track growth and remember the small things while keeping your writing practice going.
- Try a daily puzzle like sudoku or Wordle to keep your mind active.
- Make learning fun by reading outdoors at the beach or park, and plan visits to museums, libraries and cultural events.
- Let kids choose what they want to read, even magazines and comic books to help them develop a love of reading.
- Encourage kids to read the newspaper and current events magazines to keep up the reading habit over the summer and develop vocabulary.
- Set a social media time limit. Try to give yourself a daily limit to connect with friends or mindlessly scroll and get it out of your system. Don’t let your phone control your break.
- Learn something new. Just imagine going back to school in the fall and being able to play something on a guitar or speak another language!
“Kids can still have a fun-filled summer and not fall behind where they were in the spring,” said Hanes. “We need to show them that learning can be fun – whether in the classroom or exploring on their own and with their family.”