Discover how to avoid the summer learning slide

The lazy hazy days of the summer holiday are tantalisingly close with children looking ahead to a break from the school routine.   Fantasizing about the adventures that await and the great memories that are going to be made.  What's not to love? 

But, in reality is the extended break all that's it’s cracked up to be? And can it do more harm than good?  

I'm in no doubt that children need and must have a break; a time to relax, slow down and recharge but what we absolutely want to avoid is the summer learning slide. 


What is the summer learning slide?  

Not a fun educational fairground attraction, but a phenomenon.  It’s the loss of a child’s knowledge and academic skills. Put simply, children forget what they have learnt. In fact, research has found that over the summer, children show little or no academic growth and at worst, can lose between one to three months of learning. Delving deeper, statistics have shown that over the break around 2.6 months of learning loss occurs in maths, 2 months in reading and progress in September is slowed because it can take the first six weeks of the autumn term to re-learn what has been lost and get brain development back on track!  

Summer learning loss can start to occur as early as year 2, and by the end of year 7, children who experience learning loss can be as much as two years behind their peers!  

However, all is not lost as there are numerous ways to counteract the effects of summer learning loss. 

How to avoid it

It is possible to offset summer learning loss by keeping children’s minds active and sharp. Although, the summer may seem long, the good news is that children don’t have to sit down and participate in formal learning activities, that wouldn’t be everyone’s idea of a fun summer break. Using life and social skills are just as  brilliant in stimulating thought processes.

Studies have demonstrated that as little as two to three hours per week of buzzing brain activity can do the trick. It’s the process of thinking and engaging that is important- not how we stimulate that process.  

So here are 5 simple ways to engage your child’s grey matter without needing oodles of energy, time or money!

1 .Let’s get physical – the positive effect of sport and physical exercise are well known, so encourage your child to get active. Learn to play a new sport, join a local team or get a group of friends together to create your own. Children can create and design their own obstacle courses in the garden or even in the home. 

2. Venture into video – the summer is a time for excitement and adventure. Use a smartphone or camera to record and “day in the life of……,” or make a digital diary, documentary or film about a special trip or event.  

3. Nature at its best – Nature is a fantastic free resource and available to all. Go on a sound walk, cloud or star gaze, collect natural materials to create original pieces of art. 

4. Plan an event – If you’re planning a holiday, a day trip, get together with friends or even a picnic in the park – give your child responsibility for planning part or all of the occasion. How will you travel? What do you need to take? Do you need to manage a budget? Putting your child in charge will teach them how to organise, manage time and resources whilst using social skills too. 

5. Yes chef! – Involve your child in planning, cooking and preparing meals. Choosing recipes, following instructions, sourcing ingredients, preparing food for oneself and others are all great ways of developing a multitude of skills.  

So, avoiding the summer learning slide can be as simple as using activities like those I’ve shared, and although we want to keep children at the top of their game, it’s no secret that children develop and learn most effectively when they are engaged and having fun.

If you’re short on time, don’t know where to start, or would like more activity ideas, subscribe to Jennie Adams Teaching and Learning here and receive my free download- with 42 summer learning activities ideas, one for every day of the holidays.  Or why not come along to my Curiosity Club group activity sessions for primary age pupils where curious learners can avoid the summer holiday learning slide and keep their minds sharp.

By Jennie Adams on 13th July 2017

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