As summer vacation approaches, students are getting ready for summer vacation. However parents and teachers often worry about the loss of important skills throughout the summer months, which need to be re-taught once school is back. Some practical tips to help students avoid summer learning loss include:

Keep them reading: Studies have shown that students can lose up to 25 percent of their reading skills over the summer months, which can have a significant impact on their ability to get back into in the fall. Reading even a few books over the summer can really help students maintain their reading ability when they return to the classroom. One way to ensure that they keep reading all summer is to schedule regular trips to the local library. Many libraries have summer reading programs that encourage kids to read a certain number of books before the summer is over.

Build reading into their summer routine: Find something to read every day. Encourage kids to read a variety of texts including magazines, books about their favourite hobbies (i.e. Star Wars, Lego, etc.), online resources while playing on the computer, etc. Make sure you find things your kids want to read. If they are very young, ask a librarian for recommendations based on their age, reading level or interests. Ask your child to read a paragraph from his current book to you at night, or read to him before bed. Children of all ages – including teens – can benefit from hearing books read aloud to them, especially children who are currently struggling with their reading skills.

Hang on to math facts: Math is another subject that tends to get lost in the summer shuffle. Losses in math tend to be even higher than those in reading, forcing teachers to spend a significant amount of time at the beginning of the year on review, rather than new subjects. Fortunately, there are many options for students who want to retain their math skills over the summer months. There are numerous websites for all grades which offer lessons, worksheets, games that reinforce key mathematical concepts. For younger students you can use flashcards to go over things such as addition, subtraction, multiplication etc. For older students (teenagers) you as well can find ways to add math to daily activities, such as calculating the volume of water in the pool at camp.

Collect books or games for children to enjoy in the car: Instead of just playing on electronic devices, entice your kids on road trips with books about their favourite hobby or interests, comic books and games specifically designed for the road.

Set aside time to work on academic skills every day: Give your family one-half hour every day to read, work on math problems or indulge in fun activities like word searches or crossword puzzles. If the whole family gets involved, the children will not think it’s just about doing boring school review during the summer.

Summer is meant to be a fun time for students having a break from the daily grind of school, but if you take a pro-active approach as a parent to dedicate some time on literacy and numeracy over the summer, it will go a long way to ensuring they have a smooth transition back to school in the Fall.

Crawford Dedman

Special Education Consultant