Ways to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

Summer learning loss tends to result from the lack of intellectual stimulation kids experience over the summer months. It is estimated that kids can lose anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of a school year without the reinforcement of daily classroom routines. Chief among the affected subjects is mathematics, as regular engagement with its principles is needed to preserve and build upon a child’s computational capabilities. One way to prevent this is to have kids engage in fun activities that call those skills into play. As an example, giving kids a fun opportunity to learn coding over the summer “exercises those muscles,” to help prevent—or at least minimize—learning loss.

Why Are Kids Out of School in Summer?

The concept of summer vacation came about when our society was more agrarian in nature, so children were needed to help tend crops. Another concern was the lack of climate-controlled learning facilities, engendering concerns that kids would swelter in super-heated classrooms during the summer months. Of course, some 85 percent of the U.S population was employed in agriculture back then, which is no longer the case. Today, it’s more like 11 percent.  Moreover, air conditioning is far more prevalent now. Thus, the idea of kids suffering in superheated classrooms, unavailable to help out on the family farm, is an outdated notion.

Still, the concept of summer vacation persists, so what can parents do?

1. Have them practice:

As we mentioned above, one of the best ways to help kids retain as much as possible of what they’ve learned during the school year is to keep them involved in intellectually stimulating activities over the summer. Having kids spend as little as five minutes a day practicing math skills has been shown to help mitigate retrenchment. Any more than that, experts say, can have the opposite effect and make kids resent the material.

2. Trick them into learning:

The provision of learning opportunities disguised as games have proven to be an effective means of improving retention. Coding games such as Minecraft stimulate the same areas of the brain, even while children think they’re playing. Board games such as Monopoly can have the same effect. These games entail problem solving, critical thinking and strategic planning, while kids think they are just are having fun.

3. Teach them to cook:

Every recipe requires measuring ingredients and time. Calculating various amounts to produce specific serving sizes makes kids “solve for X”. They have to pay attention to timing as well. Teaching kids to bake a cake, make cookies, or other tasty treats gets them to engage in a wide variety of calculations with the promise of something tasty eat when they get everything just right. When things turn out wrong, they have to stop and figure out why. Either way, the tools they need to keep up in math are sharpened.

4. Summer school:

This one might seem obvious, but few people actually take advantage of it without being mandated to do so. In most instances, kids have to go to summer school because they didn’t complete work during the regular school year. This makes summer school seem punitive, rather than progressive. Kids tend to resist it as a result. Incorporating fun activities such as field trips and various outdoor adventures can make going to summer school desirable.


These are but four of a number of ways to prevent summer learning loss. The thing each of these has in common is they stimulate kids’ minds over the summer months so they don’t have to relearn how to learn at the beginning of each school year.

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