Top view of a group of students and their teacher lying on the grass and learning outdoors

Summer learning loss prevention is key in making sure that no students are left behind when school starts up again.​​ Students who allow their brains to idle over summer risk a knowledge loss that leads to cumulative deficits year over year. Conversely, students who continue learning over the summer are likely to earn higher test scores and place into the most advanced courses.

School’s out, but that doesn’t mean learning has to stop; summer is an opportunity to relax, travel, and have fun while reading or practicing math to keep your skills in check. We’ve assembled the following tips to ensure that you’re well-informed of the risks of summer learning loss and well-prepared to combat it!

The Research Behind Summer Slide 

Students lose about a month’s worth of learning over the summer. This summer learning loss is also known as the summer slide. When students don’t take time during summer break to practice the skills they’ve learned during the school year, their knowledge can fade. This is especially true for elementary students. 

Students who don’t continue practicing and learning key skills and knowledge over the summer risk a knowledge loss that can potentially amplify achievement gaps, according to a Johns Hopkins study. This means that the knowledge lost during summers in early elementary grade levels can put students behind in middle or even high school. 

Low-income students are most adversely affected. The same Johns Hopkins study found that students of disparate socioeconomic groups had similar achievements during the school year but diverged during summer.

So, what knowledge is being lost? A study of students in 3rd through 5th grade showed that students, on average, lose about 20% of their reading progress from the last school year, and nearly 30% of their math progress.

Tips for Preventing Summer Slide

How students should spend their summers ultimately comes down to previous outcomes, individual goals, and desire. Students who failed an academic course during the year are required to remediate over the summer if they want to remain on-level in the fall. Very young children or students in low-pressure academic environments may derive minimal benefit from summer studies. 

On the other hand, students attending academically rigorous schools with high ambitions would be well-served to get ahead, lest they fall behind their peers who do study over the summer.

Avoiding Math Summer Slide

Behind every student who struggles in math lies the idea that only some students can do well in math. However, the common belief that certain people are inherently good or bad at math is just not true. Let’s debunk the damaging myth of the “math brain” this summer and help all kids start succeeding in mathematics with the following resources! 

Practicing math is the key strategy to prevent summer learning loss in math—this could range from independent practice to parents helping their student practice. But how can students be motivated to practice math over the summer, when there’s plenty of other activities available to them? Gamification is one of the best ways to pique a child’s interest in math, encouraging them to practice their skills and avoid math summer slide. 

In addition to being fun, math games provide many benefits, such as instant feedback and a stress-free learning environment. Piqosity offers a gamification experience that encourages student engagement while they practice their skills.

Turning math into a fun summer activity can be a great way to inspire younger students. Does your child like the outdoors? Take them to a field of sunflowers and practice skip counting patterns, or go on a hike together and point out different geometric patterns present in nature. Is it a rainy day? Go to an art gallery and introduce them to the Golden Ratio. Or, you can head to the kitchen and practice fractions by baking some cookies. 

Though math summer slide is most concerning for younger students, middle and high school-level math courses build upon each other, meaning that taking the time to practice skills from earlier courses over the summer will help students be best prepared for their upcoming math class. High schoolers, try your hand at these practice problems, straight from Piqosity’s collection of practice tests, to refresh your understanding of Alegbra 1:

Preventing ELA Summer Slide

Though, on average, students lose more of their math knowledge than reading knowledge over the summer, practicing English Language Arts skills is vital to ensure they are holistically on-track with their peers to begin the next semester of school. 

The key tactic for ELA summer learning loss prevention? Reading! Not only does reading help students retain the skills they’ve learned over the school year, learn new vocabulary, and improve their reading comprehension capabilities, but students who read over the summer tend to develop a love of reading! This means that reading for fun and for school become easier when students read over the summer.

What should students be reading? Honestly: whatever they’re interested in, at a reading level that aligns with or slightly surpasses their own reading level. The books they’re reading should challenge students, but their complexity shouldn’t frighten them away from reading. That’s why introducing a fifth grader to Shakespeare might not be the best option; instead, research books based off of the student’s grade level, and find something that aligns with their interests, passions, or desires. 

Reading on its own is an effective way to practice reading comprehension, but taking practice tests is the best way to help you prepare to be tested on English skills. To help gauge your current ELA capabilities, here is a sample test that includes language questions and a reading passage about summer break with comprehension questions from Piqosity’s ELA 9 course:

Staying On-Track for College-Bound Students 

If you are planning on going to college, you should work to avoid summer slide for both math and ELA, regardless of your expected major. Are you thinking of going into engineering or computer science? Then you can’t afford to get rusty in math, and ELA prep can help you perfect your test scores. Do you want to study history or culinary arts? Retain your knowledge and you’ll be able to write college essays in a breeze and test out of math in college, which will save you time and money.

According to Harvard, students lose 2.6 months of math learning alone over the duration of summer. So if you are planning on taking the SAT or ACT in the fall, there is simply not enough time to gain that knowledge back. Keep your skills fresh this summer while preparing for the SAT with Piqosity’s SAT test prep course, which comes with a free diagnostic test to gauge your current standing before you even get started practicing.

While you prep over the summer, remember these key dates coming up this fall:

  • Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors: If your school administers the PSAT to your grade level, it may occur on a school day between October 2 and October 31, 2023.
  • Juniors and Seniors: The first Fall ACT test is on September 9; the first SAT is on August 26.
  • Seniors: The Common Application for college opens on August 1.

Keep Your Skills Sharp this Summer With Piqosity! 

We hope this article helped you understand the importance of summer learning loss prevention and that you found the resources we offered informative and fun. It’s important to take time to rest, explore interests outside of school, and have fun during the summer, but it’s just as important to retain the knowledge and skills you’ve worked so hard to develop over the last schoool year. If you want more practice material to empower your summer studying, Piqosity is here to help!

Along with our SAT, ACT, and ISEE test prep courses, each packed with test-specific practice, we also offer full-length online Math and ELA courses. Each course includes dozens of concept lessons, personalized practice software, and practice tests with step-by-step answer explanations.

The best part? You can try out all of Piqosity’s features with our free community account. When you’re ready to upgrade, Piqosity’s year-long accounts start at only $89. Plus, get a 10% off coupon just by signing up for our mailing list!