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Summer learning loss has been a hot topic for researchers since 1906. Over that last century, numerous studies have looked into the causes and effects of the American academic summer break. In this blog, we will explore what summer learning loss is, how much knowledge is lost during the summer months, and how you can help combat it as a parent, tutor, or teacher.

What is Summer Learning Loss?

Also known as the summer slide, “summer learning loss” refers to the academic knowledge lost over the course of a few months off from school. According to a Johns Hopkins study, this learning loss is cumulative year after year. This indicates that the summer learning loss early in elementary school can directly affect learning loss post-ninth grade. The same study also indicates that summer learning loss affects low-income schools and students much more than their higher-income counterparts. 

However, many researchers, teachers, and parents believe that the summer slide is too abstract to cause concern. After all, each individual student has their own learning style, retention capabilities, accessibility to enriching activities throughout the year (academic or otherwise), and social-economic strengths. Inconsistencies in testing can also cause incorrect findings. 

So, should you be concerned about summer learning loss? Let’s learn more about the amount of learning lost during the summer months. 

How Much Learning is Lost Over the Summer?

Evidence of summer learning loss goes back decades. A University of Missouri and Tennessee State University study found that a month of learning is typically lost over the summer, mainly in mathematics. A RAND education study agrees and adds that reading skills are also lost during this time.

In addition, the ECLS-K:2011 study, which studied children who entered Kindergarten in 2010 and 2011, shows that learning did not drop but simply slowed down over the summer. The study also showed that summer widened socioeconomic achievement, but did not widen racial and ethic disparities. 

MAP Growth studies millions of students’ anonymous test scores between Kindergarten and 8th grade. MAP has found that achievement scores decline more sharply for math than for reading over summer vacation. However, MAP does not accurately represent the entire nation, and does not include socioeconomic information. Moreover, MAP fails to take into account testing inconsistencies in the classroom, and expects too much of students in the youngest grades. For example, the first MAP test is taken within weeks of a Kindergartener’s very first day of school. This may lead to inaccurate findings as such young children have yet to work their schools computers, learn how to communicate issues with their teachers, and more.

A Note on Covid Distance Learning

Perhaps the most interesting and unexpected data we have comes from the Covid-19 pandemic. One study found that distance learning created an average learning loss of about 7 months. For Black students, this loss was about 10.3 months. Hispanic children lost 9.2 months, and students from low-income families were set back over a year.

Should You Worry About Summer Learning Loss?

Summer learning loss is a concern for some students. But, for others, there may be other concerns that are best addressed during the summer months. Especially with the rigors of academia joined with the inconsistencies of schooling in the post-Covid era, a relaxing and mentally healthy summer break may be best for many children. 

One way to enhance this mentally healthy summer is to add or encourage an enrichment activity that the student is already passionate about or interested in. Consider a high-quality summer learning program, an internship in a field they are interested in entering, experiences in nature or with the arts, a reading or writing camp, STEM and STEAM experiences, and other laid-back activities to continue learning in new ways.

How Do I Stop Summer Learning Loss?

Consider pairing the above activities with academic enrichment throughout the summer. Subject areas like math and reading are especially important, because students build upon their previous knowledge in these fields every subsequent year. Excessive academic work may burn students out during their well-deserved break, so encourage a moderate amount of academic work coupled with the engaging enrichment activities described above.

Piqosity has countless resources to choose from for academic summer practice, including tips for reluctant readers and a collection of 10 books to improve vocabulary. For students who want to continue their math practice, try these two player math games. Further, consider working on time management skills during this time of the year without the pressure that comes with schoolwork.

Use Piqosity to Retain Academic Knowledge

Summer learning loss doesn’t have to affect your children and students in the years to come. There are resources, activities, and even courses available to help prepare students for the coming school year. Utilizing online after-school programs for math and English can help combat both of the most commonly lost learning areas.

These are complete courses available online through our app and can be purchased separately or received for free when bundled with our ISEE test prep courses!

Joining Piqosity is FREE (no credit card information required, no sneaky fine-print trials).. We’ll be with you every step of the way, so don’t wait, begin your test preparation journey with Piqosity today.

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