Resources to help Reduce Summer Learning Loss
School is out for summer break!! Before you put away everything educational and prepare for a summer full of vacations, swimming and frozen treats, let’s talk about summer learning activities for kids.
If you are looking for some fun family activities, I have a post with 50 Summer Activity Ideas.
But in this post, let’s talk talk about kid activities and resources for summer learning. I’m not talking about summer school, but in our house, we call it “Mom School”.
Before you close your browser or click to another site, I want to let you know the Mom school is EASY! It doesn’t require a teaching degree or purchasing any curriculum. No matter what you call it or don’t call it, the goal is to keep your kids’ brains active in fun and easy ways through the summer months.
And it’s done to help reduce Summer Learning Loss.
What is Summer Learning Loss?
Summer learning loss is simply a term educators use to define knowledge kids lose over the summer. The Summer Math Loss article from Harvard Graduate School of Education says that on average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of math skills during the summer.
An associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin questions – Is summer learning loss real? His research was not able to replicate the same results as other studies which show summer learning loss, so he questions just how much knowledge students lose over the summer. But one thing he can say is learning slows down significantly over the summer.
Either way, it’s estimated that teachers spend (on average) one month of the new school year reteaching lessons previously taught. As a mom, you can help your kids stay sharp with their school skills over the summer.
How summer learning At Home Can Help
Kids learn with PRACTICE and REPETITION. There’s a reason why kids are asked to do more than one math problem for their homework. And there’s good reason why the coach asks the team to do the same warm up drills each practice. Kids need practice and repetition to become proficient in their skills. Summer learning at home provides more opportunities to practice.
Kids learn in DIFFERENT WAYS. The classroom setting can be challenging for some students. Some students learn really well by hearing the lesson or seeing examples on the board. Other kids need hands on experiences to really understand the concept. Exposure to a variety of teaching methods and styles can help kids learn. You can provide these opportunities at home during the summer.
Kids can learn faster one-on-one. When you work with your kids on an individual level you’re able to provide immediate feedback. You can correct their mistakes which will allow them to practice the correct way. And you won’t move on until your kid understands. Summer learning at home is a low stress environment where you kids can simply learn for fun.
Here’s one mom’s experience with summer learning.
How Can I help My Kids learn over the Summer?
Summer learning should not cause you or your kids stress. You don’t have to be a teacher to teach your kids. You don’t need lesson plans, specific curriculum or pay a lot of money. The most important thing is being willing to set aside time each day and be consistent.
Set Aside time each day
Plan time in your day for summer learning. If you’re willing to give just 1 hour each day to summer learning you will make a difference for your kids. And it doesn’t even need to be 1 hour all at once. You can break the time into 10 or 15 minute blocks.
If 1 hour seems like too big of a commitment, start with one 15 minute block and go from there.
If you’re setting aside time each day for summer learning you’re taking the first step toward being consistent. You can also be consistent by being disciplined and keeping to your schedule each day. If you miss a day or two, don’t feel defeated. Just start up again.
There are lots of free resources that can help.
FREE Summer Learning Resources for Kids
This is a list of free summer learning resources for kids. I do include one paid option, but just because my youngest son enjoyed it so much.
It’s no surprise that reading during the summer will help your kids retain their reading skills. When kids have the opportunity to read out loud, listen to audio books, read silently, or be read to by a parent or during story time they benefit.
Most schools or teachers have some form of required reading for kids during the school year. Some schools even have required summer reading.
If you have a reading routine during the school year, keep that routine through the summer. If your kids read 15 minutes before bed during the school year, keep that habit over the summer.
To help motivate your kids to read, sign up for a summer reading program. They have prizes and incentives to help your kids continue reading all summer. Here few programs we have done in the past:
- Local Library – our public library system has a fun program where kids can earn a free book.
- Barnes & Noble – earn a free book
- Half Price Books – earn Bookworm Bucks
- Pizza Hut (Book It!) – earn Pizza
Practicing math over the summer can be a daunting task. When my kids were little I bought math workbooks. They were colorful and my kids liked them. We did really good at the beginning of the summer, but I’m not sure they actually finished an entire workbook.
Next came Khan Academy. Initially this didn’t work for us, because my little kids couldn’t read the questions. That resource went on pause.
Then I found TenMarks. My kids and I loved TenMarks. They could click on the question and it was read out loud. It was great for preschool until they could read questions on their own. Sadly, the program is shutting down at the end of this month.
What My Kids Use Now
Now we are back to Khan Academy. My youngest is in a language immersion program, so his language is set to Spanish. We have come across a few items that aren’t available, but I switch him back to English to finish and it’s fine.
This is what I’m using this summer
You can sign your kids up and they let them learn at their own pace. 10 or 15 minutes a day is great. Older kids can even use the app on their phone.
You’ll want to monitor this a little, so your older kids aren’t just doing adding and subtracting. But as long as they are practicing their math skills, that’s the goal, right?
How Moms Can Use Khan Academy As An Educator
If you want to be more involved, here’s the quick version of how you can use this tool.
1. Sign yourself up as a homeschool teacher and each kid as a student.
2. On the Teacher Dashboard, create classes for each of your kids (I start with the grade they just finished)
3. Add each kid to the correct class.
4. Under Content, assign the first Unit Test
Since they just finished that grade, you want to verify they know the material. And it’s a great review if it was something they learned at the beginning of the year.
If your kid doesn’t do as well as expected on the test, you can go back and assign the lessons in that Unit. If they do well on the test you can move on to the next Unit test.
Once you get through the tests for the grade you just finished, you can change the grade for the class and assign the first lesson.
- iPractice Math I’m trying it out this summer. We will see how it goes.
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I think most kids have a complicated relationship with writing. But it’s an important skill that kids need to practice and practice. My summer writing resources need some help. If you do something with your kids and want to share, please reply and let me know!
A few things we have done that are easy include:
- Write and/or draw pictures in a daily journal
- Retell events from the day
Because kids can have a complicated relationship with writing, I’ve found it’s good to have a special journal that is right for each individual kid.
For younger kids, I really like the Mead Primary Journal.
Mead Primary Journal
This journal is great for younger kids. The top half of the page is blank so they can illustrate their entry. The bottom half of the page is primary-ruled lining to help with handwriting.
Elementary age boys don’t always love the idea of a journal. The best success we have had is with The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book.
The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book
The pages give writing prompts and help kids write their own story. If your kids enjoy the Wimpy Kid books they may just find themselves enjoying their journal writing time.
A journal that will work for any age – and can be kept for years to come.
Q&A a day for kids
This journal is both a summer learning opportunity and can be a treasured family keepsake. Each day your kids answer a new question!
- Education.com – free worksheets for several subjects, grades preschool-5th grade
- Khan Academy Kids – free educational app for ages 2-6
- ABC Mouse – PAID. I was skeptical about this program. I didn’t really want to pay for something, but my son LOVED it. It’s a decent learning tool, but more important for me, it’s a safe online environment. I knew everything he saw was appropriate for his age and he was engaged with the learning activities. ABC Mouse is always having sales, so there’s really no reason to pay full price.
Two Main Point to Remember About Summer Learning for Kids
1. Help your kids stay sharp over the summer by using a couple learning resources
2. Dedicate 1 hour a day
The hardest part I’ve found about Mom School is being consistent. It’s easy to let a day or two go by without reminding your kids to read. That day or two easily turns into a week or two.
Then before you know it, the summer is over and your kids
haven’t really done anything educational over the summer.
Decide today to dedicate a little
time each day to summer learning. Make reading a daily habit. And sign up for one or more of the resources above.
If you miss a day or two, just recommit. Your kids are worth the effort!