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Prevent Summer Learning Loss: Top 10 Ideas for Parents

Updated: May 20

title image featuring a young boy swinging on a rope in sunshine and the blog title "Prevent Summer Learning Loss: Top 10 Ideas for Parents" by Novel Designs Co.

Summer is a time for kids to unwind and have fun, and there's nothing quite like the joy of a playground on a sunny day. My son's absolute favorite thing at every park is the tallest slide he can find, and I completely get it because I remember the rush and freedom of the wind in my own face as a kid. And as long as the playground slide is the only one we participate in, I’ll be a happy mama. But while our kids are busy enjoying the outdoors and soaking up the sun, it’s important to ensure that their academic skills don’t slide as well. With the right mix of fun and educational activities, you can prevent summer learning loss and keep your child’s mind sharp all summer long. It doesn't have to be a chore; in fact, it can be a wonderful opportunity to bond and explore new interests together. With these 10 tips, parents can make this summer both enjoyable and intellectually stimulating, ensuring that your kids are ready to hit the ground running when school starts again.


What is Summer Learning Loss?

Summer learning loss refers to the regression in skills that happens to children during the summer months when their focus on education tends to be more relaxed. On average, kids can lose up to two months' worth of knowledge and skills over the summer. What's even scarier is that this loss is cumulative – each summer sets them further behind, and they can't catch up even after returning to school. By the time they reach high school, this gap can be as wide as 2-5 years in performance. Teachers often spend about six weeks at the beginning of each school year just recapping and re-teaching the material from the previous year that children forgot over the summer break. This means that instead of jumping into new and exciting topics, students and teachers are stuck playing catch-up, which can be frustrating for everyone involved. Preventing this slide is crucial for maintaining your child's academic progress and confidence.


Can I help my child avoid Summer Learning Loss?

Studies show that just 15-20 minutes of reading a day and 2-3 hours per week dedicated to educational activities can dramatically reduce the effect of the summer slide in children. Reading 4-6 books over the entire summer break can even reverse the learning loss statistics! But I know what you’re thinking: “That all sounds great, but it’s going to be WW3 to get my child to do schoolwork during the break!” Don’t worry, with a little creativity and the tips I’m about to share, you’ll be set for a summer full of fun and learning! By incorporating educational games, exciting reading challenges, and hands-on projects, you can keep your child engaged without it feeling like a chore. Get ready to discover how to turn summer into an adventure that both you and your child will enjoy, all while keeping those academic skills sharp.

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How do I get my child to participate in education while on summer break?

Great news – it can be super simple! I think we grown-ups tend to overcomplicate things because it's just what our brains are used to, but sometimes you just have to take a moment to scale back and you'll see that almost any situation can be a teaching moment. Here are my top activity suggestions for beating the summer regression in your house this year. With these fun and engaging ideas, your kids will be learning without even realizing it! From nature scavenger hunts that teach biology to cooking sessions that involve math, there are endless ways to keep their minds active. Incorporate storytelling, creative arts, and educational games, and you'll turn summer into a season of growth and discovery. Let's make learning fun and seamless for both you and your children!

1. Garden together. Whether it’s vegetables, herbs and spices, or flowers, gardening is a learning activity all it’s own (I’m still a novice, but I’m trying!). It’s an easy opportunity to discuss nutrition, the science of pollination and photosynthesis, or even just bugs! Create garden labels so you don’t forget what you planted where, and let your child do the writing.


2. Similarly, just taking a nature walk can be extremely beneficial in opening opportunities for communication about nature and science. Count the butterflies you see, collect cool rocks, see how many items you can find for letters of the alphabet. The possibilities are endless!


3. Cook together. Yes, it will be a slower meal prep and probably twice as messy, but cooking is an easy, fun, and amazing way to teach math and reading skills by following recipes, measuring ingredients, mixing, etc. Plus, you get the added bonus of eating something delicious afterwards.

4. Schedule a family game night and opt for games with an educational theme. Chutes and Ladders, Hi Ho Cherry-O, Patty-Pillar, and Catch and Count Fishing Rod are all fun games for little ones that encourage learning colors, numbers, and critical thinking. Are your kids too old for those? Choose a card game and place your bets with sweet treats!


5. Visit local learning institutions. Local historic sites, children’s museums, and botanical gardens are all great community places to plan a family outing. Not sure how to find interesting historical places in your area? Check out this list by state and county!


6. Visit your local library. Most libraries will do a summer reading program for children that includes a lot of fun activities on site or that can be picked up and taken home. The take home crafts are always a hit, and being in the library more often means more access to books, which we already know leads to a bigger interest in reading! Libraries also have a wonderful digital selection that you can access from anywhere now, too.

7. Join a reading challenge. This can also be something offered by your public library, but if you missed sign ups or prefer something more low kay or personal, you can always create your own. Maybe it’s creating the habit of one hour of quiet time after dinner each night, where you can also be an example of learning to your children. 15 minutes a day tracked on a reward chart is an easy way to get your kids in the habit!


8. Encourage your child to write. They could write letters to family that live out of state or to friends that are spending the summer away. They could even do creative writing prompts or a daily journal to document something fun or good that they experience each day.

9. Listen to audiobooks. Have a long car ride ahead? Load up on some audiobooks and get your kiddo listening! You can use apps and services such as Audible (10 day free trial on Plus) or Kindle, or you can check out the online services available through your local library and public school systems through Overdrive, Libby, and Sora.


10. Find educational apps for tablets and phones. Teachyourmonster.org has fun games for literacy and math skills. Amazon Kids has a ton of great games with favorite cartoon characters that are geared toward math and reading skills, too. My son’s current favorite is a cooking game that teaches the alphabet through multiple different kinds of mini-games, such as finger tracing letters to expose food items or filling a shopping cart with foods that start with certain letters.


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