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Summer Learning Loss: Ways to Engage the Brain and Prevent It!

Posted by Faith Mackey on May 21, 2021 12:22:19 PM
Faith Mackey

You did it! You made it through a highly unusual school year full of challenges and new experiences. Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back! Before you pack up your virtual (or in-person) classroom and celebrate continuation ceremonies, take a moment to share these learning loss prevention tips with your students.

What is Learning loss?

Summer learning loss, aka the summer slide, is what happens when students are not in school over the summer and their brains are less engaged academically.

They begin to forget some of the foundational principles that they had learned during the school year, which can make it much harder to learn and retain new information the following school year.

In a review of student’s literacy by Oxford Learning, it was found that after the summer break “on average, students’ achievement scores declined over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning."

paths-blog-summer-learning-lossWhy does it happen?

When children are not in school over the summer break, they are not constantly being exposed to the information that they were once learning in school. This can then affect a child’s grades and overall academic performance. The new material they will be learning may even seem more difficult because they are not able to remember the foundational information they were taught the year prior. 

Why is it important to prevent it?

It is especially important to help prevent summer learning loss for middle schoolers who are transitioning to high school. High school will be a whole new learning environment, one that is more advanced, which can already be very nerve-racking. Adding on a loss of information would only impede one from succeeding to their highest potential in the high school setting. Practicing SEL skills for this important life change would be beneficial for success as well.

So what can be done to prevent summer learning loss? Here are three activities that can be moderated for different levels of learning. 

English skills

  • Pick out at least 3-5 books (fiction or non-fiction) to help with literacy and increase reading difficulty. (fun tip: start a book club with your friends!) Pro-social tip: if you are a parent, reach out to your local library and see if they are putting on any events for children.

Math skills

  • Master chef night: Give your children a budget, help them pick a recipe for dinner, and take them to the grocery store. At the grocery store, children will learn how to budget by using basic math to stay under budget. This also promotes team building and responsible decision-making skills as you may have to work together with your child to help them pick and choose ingredients. Then back at home, (please use parental supervision when your child is cooking) you and your child will cook the pre-decided meal for the whole family! 
  • Mathiscool.com is also a great website for promoting math practice with many different engaging online games for different grade levels. 

Art and Science

Twiggle’s Color Palette
  1. Draw a blank color wheel (see example below) and give your child red, blue, and yellow paint (these are the primary colors).
  2. Let them mix the different primary colors to create the secondary colors (Blue + yellow= green, red + blue= purple, yellow + red= orange).
  3. Next, they can fill in the color wheel and let it dry.  
  4. Last, ask what emotions might represent each color, and what feelings make up each emotion. (Below is an example of what the PATHS team thinks each color represents but feel free to make it your own!) 

Expand this activity

Make a weather pattern with cotton balls:

  1. On a sheet of paper using the paint colors you've created, paint a scene from outside, be sure to include a large space for the sky.
  2. Watch this YouTube video with your children that explains the different types of clouds.
  3. With glue and cotton balls make the different types of clouds that you just learned about in the video. Different types of clouds are for different types of weather

If you enjoyed this content, please share it with a friend or fellow educator! 

Topics: Social and emotional learning, middle school, remote learning, SEL and Parents