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Avoiding Summer Learning Loss

Most people know the school year is based on the agricultural cycle. Students don’t attend school during what has traditionally been the summer harvest. When the school year ends, many students are occupied during the long summer months with day camps, swimming, play dates and vacation.

What many parents don’t know, however, is that kids experience a phenomenon called “summer learning loss”. Essentially, they forget a lot of what they learned in the previous school year over the summer months. In fact, studies have shown kids lose an average of over two and a half months worth of math skills in the summertime. What happens is as learning occurs the synapses in the brain strengthen their connection in the areas of learning. When students stop exercising their brains in those areas, those synaptic connections start to loosen. This is why teachers spend the first couple months of the school year just getting their students caught up! Students that were already struggling in math will start off the next school year even further disadvantaged. And it’s not just math. Overall, kids lose an average of one month of learning in other subjects during the summer. Think of athletes. Imagine if they stopped training for 2-3 months in the year. You would expect when they return to their sport they would experience a lag in performance. The brain is no different. It needs to be exercised.

In contrast, if your child works their language and/or math skills over the summer s/he can actually make progress. When school starts in September there will be a marked improvement in comparison to the rest of the class. What a confidence boost!

So how can you keep your kids learning over the summer? Here are a few ideas.

  • Use educational workbooks – These are available at most bookstores, and geared towards different grades. Have your child do an hour each day.
  • Visit a library – Find some books with topics that interest your child so that they are really engaged in reading.
  • Enroll in summer tutoring programs – For students that are struggling academically, summer can be the perfect time to address it with a customized tutoring program.

These ideas will help your children build more confidence, preparing them to start the new school year with a bang!

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