Increasing School Year Academic Gains During the Summer

Research has shown and many educational articles support the fact that students can lose up to three months grade-level equivalency during the summer months off from school.  It will be the parents, camp counselors, or possibly the summer school teachers’ responsibility to help the students, especially students with learning or physical disabilities to not lose the gains that they have strived hard to learn over the past school year.

Summer Reading

Many schools, libraries, community organizations, and summer camps urge students to continue reading through various reading reward programs, summer reading & book reports, and other ‘free-choice’ reading activities.  This leads students to the possibility of making gains in reading during the summer months.  The same attention should be paid to science, math, and social studies.  One way to encourage learning in these areas is by providing high-quality fiction and non-fiction reading choices to students with a focus on science or history.  A few books that I recommend for upper elementary are Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, and Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko. To encourage those students who may not like reading, you can suggestthe option of reading with the aid of an audiobook version along with the written book.

Stop the Summer Brain Drain!

Another way to build gains in science and math would be to attend local area camps that have a focus on nature, science, robotics, and mathematics.   Many local area day camps have these options included with other summer fun activities like arts & crafts, sports, theater, or computers.

Parents can encourage upper elementary and middle school students to continue to learn math is by having them calculate math problems in their everyday lives.  Finding out how much a certain amount of fruits or vegetables would cost at the grocery store, figuring out tax and tips at a restaurant, or calculating out how much it would cost to fill up the gas tank at the current price of gasoline.  Depending on the students’ level, then you can increase the challenge by dividing (how much would half a tank of gas cost) or multiplication (how much would 2x as many peppers cost).  These would be easy (cost-free) ways to get your kids active in learning math over the summer.

One tip that the Family Education article on Stop the Summer Brain Drain! includes is ideas to think about when planning or taking family vacations.  Depending on the location, there will be various possibilities to plan extra excursions where students can ‘see’ history, science and math in real life by going to museums, parks, or historical sites.

Tips for Teachers

One more pro-active way for a teacher to keep students learning over the summer is by providing the up and coming students with a glance of what they will be learning in the coming year.  As a teacher, I myself like to set up the expectations.  I do this informally when I see my future students around the school.  Many students will actually start to ask me (and my current students) what they will be learning in my class.  This could be more formalized where you could send a letter home to your future students and their families about what different topics they will be covering next year in school and what they could do over the summer to prepare.

Online Learning Resources for Parents and Kids

Lastly, here are some kid-friendly and parent-friendly online resources for students to learn (and have fun) over the summer months so they come back to school prepared and ready to start on or above grade level.  Feel free to comment and share other summer learning resources for students and parents!

1.       Fun Brain

2.       Teaching preK-8:  How to Making Summer Learning Fun

3.       Internet4Classrooms Summer Activities Signup

4.       Discovery Kids

5.       Gamequarium

6.       Learning Today Free Reading and Math Games


-Article by Laura Ketcham

-Picture by Apenas Imagens

Learning Games and Online Summer Learning Programs by Mangomon

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