Summer effect: How to avoid the loss of learning?

Summer effect - How to avoid the loss of learning

Summer break always arrives, and with this most students say goodbye to teachers, books, pencils, notebooks and blackboards. Summer brings with it the opportunity to rest, travel and enjoy the benefits of heat, however, these two or almost three months away from the classroom, bring the inevitable forgetting of contents and skills worked during the previous school year, resulting in lag and difficulty to continue with new learning. In this post we will talk a little about this effect and discuss some ways to avoid it.

All young people experience loss of learning when they are not busy with educational activities during the Summer (something commonly known as Summer Slide). Research spanning at least 30 years shows that students typically get lower scores on standardised summer vacation end exams compared to those same exams at the beginning of the season.

As the First Lady Michelle Obama said in her comments as she when launching the “United We Serve: Let’s Read, Let’s Move” initiative in June 8, 2012: “Many children sometimes realise that they forgot some things they learned in their years of school, and as a result, if they stop learning during the summer, they can fall behind and then have to battle over the course of the year. ”

Differences between different socioeconomic positions and its effects on summer slide

It is clear that during the summer months few children (regardless of their socioeconomic position) practice with the multiplication tables and that most of them play with consoles and watch a lot of television. 

But the main difference comes from the summer activities carried out by the students of the different socioeconomic groups. Children who come from families with greater resources, participate more in music, literature, theatre and painting workshops, practice sports and travel abroad, while children with limited resources do not have access to these activities, or even spaces of recreational stimulus. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter University.

Summer learning loss statistics

Upon returning to classes, the differences between students who review in summer and those who do not do so are notable and, moreover, remain throughout the year. The difference is greater in mathematics than that of reading, because it is a subject that is usually not related to the child’s environment outside of school.

  • The common setback for math skills is a loss of 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency.
  • While there’s no significant loss (or gain) of reading skills in middle-class students, lower-class ones usually show a significant loss of three months of grade-level equivalency.
  • The equivalent of one month of learning is lost after a summer vacation.
  • The first six weeks of the new school year are spent on relearning old content in order to proceed with new subjects.
  • Spending 2 or 3 hours a week is more than enough to avoid any summer learning loss.
  • Summer learning loss can be recognised as early as grade one.
  • It can take up to two months from the first day of school for a student to get back on track with their brain development.
  • Two thirds of the income achievement gap is attributed to summer learning loss by the start of high school. 
How to prevent summer learning loss
How to prevent summer learning loss?


It is not so much about having the children busy all day in activities that would not break with the school routine (a break that on the other hand, is necessary) but favouring the development of activities that keep their brain activity active without compromising their vacations too much. 

But which activities are the best? The variety is great, from artistic activities (music, painting, dance, among others), summer camps in which the child meets new friendships, thus promoting their social relationships, or trips to learn languages ​​and learn new places. Another activity notable for its benefits on performance is reading, available to any student.

Among the many ways to prevent the summer slide are:

  1. Promote reading – keep your child involved during the summer through reading. Public libraries are a great way to keep children entertained and learning during the summer. Many public libraries offer reading programs and challenges where participants have the opportunity to win books and other prizes. In many libraries, the programs are open to children of all ages and even adults.
  2. Reserve a small amount of time each day, ideally between 30 minutes and one hour. The day has 24 hours and there is time for everything. In the morning it is the best time to exercise the brain since it is more rested and with better predisposition. To continue maintaining the habit it is advisable to always do it at the same hours.
  3. Take advantage of summer days to do different activities that you cannot do during the school year. One of the options is to send your child to a summer camp. There are many benefits that they bring: social skills, tolerance, confidence and development of maturity and independence, among others.
  4. Family excursions are ideal in this period. Visiting museums, natural parks, touring different cities, going to theatres … all that provides the students many knowledge and culture. A good idea to make the most of this beautiful experience is to plan it in advance so that your child can read and get informed before doing this activity, creating a feeling of curiosity.
  5. Show them new and different activities and hobbies:
  6. Crafting: It is an activity that usually starts with school and it is in summer when we can begin to take advantage of its incalculable benefits: With it we work psychomotor skills, attention, concentration, decision making and creativity by bridging their fantasies with the real world. In addition, if we do it as a family, we strengthen the bonds of union and love.
  7. Music: It has been shown that practicing a musical instrument produces positive emotions, elevates mood, works the psychomotor skills, improves visual and spatial intelligence and improves sleep quality.

Experts agree that the activities parents do with their children during the summer, from shopping to cooking, can be opportunities for learning and reviewing what they learned the previous year. With a little organisation and creativity, your children can avoid losing learning in an entertaining and fun way.

We Recommend 

International English Summer School

Our Multi-National Summer School (Club Summer MAX) in Brighton on the South Coast of England is hugely popular with International students aged 10 to 17.

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