How to Prevent Summer Holiday Learning Loss

We’re one week in to the summer holidays, and, thanks to the arrival of actual sun, the kids are running around outdoors, splashing around in the Millennium Fountain and generally living a carefree life. School’s out, and for many of our students, so is tutoring. Just like adults, kids need, and deserve, a break after the drudgery of end of year exams, tests and assessments.

But is a six week long break from all things academic really helping our children? A poll, commissioned by Paragon Books* found that 23% of parents fear their youngsters will fall behind in their learning during the six-week break.

Falling behind in studies is a valid fear. Academic research suggests that long summer holidays have a detrimental effect on children’s academic performance, with young people forgetting some of what they have learned. A US study found that at best students showed no academic growth over the summer and at worst lost one to three months of learning.

So the problem exists, but what can you do about it? We need to find a way to entertain and amuse our children, whilst stimulating their minds and encouraging them to continue to grow academically.

One way, of course, is to find a tutor who can continue with formal academic learning over the holidays. Here at WLZ, we find about a quarter of our students continue over the summer, and their parents like the fact that their child is continuing to learn when others are either doing nothing or even backsliding. These students don’t stagnate, but continue to learn new things, and we’ve been told by their teachers that they can see which students have worked over the holidays. Of course we do our best as always, to make the sessions fun and engaging, and we use crafts and games more in the holidays to help the students feel less like they are “working”.

But tutoring can only do so much. As parents and carers there is so much that you can do at home. For younger kids sensory play is a wonderful way to encourage exploration and experimentation. If you make gloop (http://www.netmums.com/activities/fun-at-home/messy-play-made-easy/gloop) try encouraging your kids to use their finger to draw numbers, shapes, or letters on a tray. Older kids could be encouraged to write invitations to a sleepover, design posters for your garage sale, or get them to cook for you and design a menu to make it really special. These tasks require a range of skills taught in school, from maths to measure ingredients and time cooking, to English and design skills to create posters and invitations. Of course in this lovely sunshine we want to get our kids out and about, but you can introduce “academic” skills outside too. How much wood will you need to build a tree house? Draw a hopscotch grid on the patio with numbers that go up in multiples of three. Go on a nature walk and write about your findings in a mini book.

Not every task needs to be recognisable as maths or English to help your children progress throughout the holidays, rather come up with activities that require a bit of thought and imagination but are still fun.

For ideas follow our Pinterest board – http://www.pinterest.com/WorcsLearnZone/worcester-learning-zone/

*The OnePoll survey questioned 2,000 UK parents of four to 16-year-olds between July 9-11 2014