Summer slump learning loss is real
Taking a break from school can be a good thing for students, especially if the prior school year was a tough one. However, a three-month break from academic activity has a proven negative effect. By some measurements, children lose an average of 1 month and up to 2 months of learning in the time off during the summer.
Researchers from the University of Missouri first began measuring math computation and spelling skills in a 1996 study where they wanted to determine the effect of having two to three months off from learning in the summer. They amalgamated the results of 39 different studies. The results were compelling. “The meta-analysis indicated that the summer loss equaled about one month on a grade-level equivalent scale, or one tenth of a standard deviation relative to spring test scores. The effect of summer break was more detrimental for math than for reading and most detrimental for math computation and spelling.”
More recently, and following pandemic learning loss, studies have found that students in grades 1-8 lose 17% to 34% of the prior year’s learning over summer break. And significantly, the study showed that kids who fall behind one summer, tend to stay behind and even widen the gap as time goes on.
“Math, reading and history scores from the past three years show that students learned far less during the pandemic than was typical in previous years. By the spring of 2022, according to our calculations, the average student was half a year behind in math and a third of a year behind in reading,” according to Dr. Tom Kane, professor education and economics at Harvard, and Dr. Sean Reardon, professor of education and sociology at Stanford. When you add summer learning loss to the picture, it becomes more alarming.
Current statistics about summer slide:
- Kids in grades 3-5 lose about 20% of their school year gains in reading and 27% of their gains in math. (Source: Scholastic)
- Students lose about a month’s worth of learning on average over the summer. (Source: Sage Journals)
- In the summer between fifth and sixth grade, 84% of students experience summer slide in math. (Source: Kappan)
- The more kids learn during the school year, the more they’re likely to lose over the summer. (Source: Kappan)
- It can take 2 months in the fall for students to recover from summer learning loss
Things you can do to help mitigate summer learning loss:
- Set aside 30 minutes per day for some type of academic activity
- Participate in a summer reading program
- Make regular visits to the library
- Play games that reinforce reading and math skills
- Create learning experiences by visiting museums, zoos, and other nature experiences
- Keep plenty of art supplies on hand and encourage creativity
- Limit screen time
Consider summer tutoring
Your child might benefit from tutoring over the summer, even if it’s just a couple of 30-minute sessions per week. This is particularly true in subjects that your child may have struggled with during the previous school year. Teachers say that it takes a month or more in the fall, just trying to get students back to the skill levels they had before summer break. Spending some time one-on-one with a certified, classroom-experienced teacher over the summer, could be a total game-changer for your child. TutorUp can help.