Summer Learning Loss and How you can Prevent it

Summer learning loss is a real concern for teachers and parents. However, you will be pleased to hear there are a number of ways to prevent learning loss over the summer holidays. We have put together some frequently asked questions and three ways academic summer schools can prevent summer learning loss.

What is summer learning loss?

Summer learning loss often described as summer setback or summer slide, is when students return to school after their summer holidays at a lower academic level than the end of the last academic school year.

Over the summer holidays, students tend to switch off from all academic study which can result in the loss of information and a decline in academic performance.

So, what are the facts connected to summer learning loss?

Teachers have long complained about the fact that when your students come back to school after a long break it can be like starting all over again. But what are the facts connected to learning loss? Well if you’re familiar with the phrases ‘use it or lose it’ and ‘out of sight, out of mind’, these in essence tell us what experts have proven to be the effects of summer learning loss. When we stop going to school, stop reading those textbooks and stop concentrating on something, our mind pushes that information away and stops us being able to recall it easily. Studies started in the late 1960s, and the research consistently shows that summer learning loss is more than a feeling or a hunch.

Recent studies show that during the summer holidays we can lose knowledge that has taken us an average of one month to acquire.  In some subjects that loss can be as high as 2.6 months’ worth of study. According to NWEA research, summer learning loss becomes more severe as you progress though school. It is more pronounced in reading and maths, two of the most important skills we learn at school- anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of our skills can be lost over summer months.

What activities help to prevent summer learning loss?

Summer leaves lots of time for reading and getting stuck into a book can be a great boredom buster when; relaxing at home, waiting at the airport or on a long journey! Reading in English will help you to maintain your reading level and expand your English vocabulary.

You could also make use of the long summer days by learning a new skill such as cooking. Finding a new recipe in English will help to develop your vocabulary, measuring ingredients is great for mathematics and understanding how long to bake your cake for is all down to science.

Museums are a great place to go on summer holiday too. If you are visiting an English-speaking country, or if museums in your home country have sections in English, you can learn new things and keep your mind sharp. Lots of museums have hands-on exhibits for kids, especially during summer.

Anything communicative is great for preventing summer learning loss. Playing a team sport is great for physical activity and to keep up the teamworking and communication skills.

After using lots of energy running around and playing sports, you could relax by watching an educational tv show or documentary. You could also play games such as Scrabble or Cranium which will keep you thinking.

Another great idea is to write a summer journal. It’s a creative way to keep track of all the things you have been doing over the summer.

Three ways summer schools prevent summer learning loss

  1. Outdoor education and extracurricular activities
  2. Apply academic knowledge to the real world
  3. Reinforce knowledge learned over the school year
Students playing sports outside at SBC Canford

1. Outdoor education & extracurricular activities

Summer School is a fantastic way to prevent the summer slide but it’s also about having an amazing experience surrounded by other students from all over the world. Alongside the academic programme, there’s a huge range of activities to get involved in and excursions twice a week. Summer School is the perfect time to try something new, challenge yourself and keep your brain active! Preventing summer learning loss isn’t just about the time spent in the classroom – there’s growing evidence to show that being active is important for cognitive function. At summer school you’ll have so many opportunities to get involved in our social programmes with sports, fitness, outdoor adventure and challenge events to keep you physically active. An active summer as well as an academic summer provides you with the perfect combination to keep the summer learning loss away.

Male student raising his hand in the classroom

2. Reinforce knowledge learned over the year

Attending a summer course is a wonderful way for students to continue to reinforce their learning throughout the summer to avoid summer learning loss. Students on the General English courses will have a great chance to strengthen their language skills going into the next academic year, and students taking our academic courses will have the chance to go through their chosen subject and support their progression. Students will not only continue to maintain their learning through the summer on an SBC course, they will also continue to develop personally and socially in an academic setting. Students will have the opportunity to practise their leadership, teamwork and critical thinking skills throughout the summer, which will help them when they return to school.

3. Apply academic knowledge to the real world

A 21st century academic curriculum must include not only the learning of facts but also the learning of real-world skills. This means learning skills which can be transferred to academic, professional and everyday situations. Every course at Summer Boarding Courses has embedded into its curriculum a focus on developing 21st Century Skills. Below follows a description of the skills we aim to advance at our schools, academies and colleges.

Young Learners (8-11)
At SBC Oxford, our courses assist children in nurturing key learning and communication strategies, including:

  • the ability to work creatively with others
  • build confidence in communicating clearly
  • improve social and cross-cultural skills
  • develop effective problem-solving and teamwork skills

To avoid summer learning loss, develop these skills and ignite creativity in our SBC Oxford students, twice weekly all students will participate in our Time to Shine lessons. These comprise a series of dynamic and interactive challenges, for students to complete in a practical setting. Previous Time to Shine challenges include the construction of a working marble run and the building of balloon-powered cars. Through our innovative and highly social Time to Shine lessons, students are encouraged to exchange ideas, collaborate, show initiative and improve their confidence, all while having fun.

Older Schools & Colleges
At our other academic summer centres, alongside developing subject knowledge and English language proficiency, we aim to develop these transferable skills further. Each week all our academic courses have a bespoke Time to Shine research and presentation project, which encourage students to develop the following skills:

A photograph of 4 students and 1 teacher sitting at a desk in a classroom having an enjoyable discussion

Expert Thinking & Innovation

Each course has a bespoke Time to Shine research and presentation project. Each research project will require students to devise and act on creative ideas, developing them to form concise and engaging presentations. As well as developing their idea creation techniques by taking part in these collaborative projects, students will develop key critical thinking and analytical skills to prevent summer learning loss.

A student doing a speech whilst holding a microphone looking behind him at a presentation

Communication & Collaboration

By taking part in our Time to Shine projects, all students will develop their ability to communicate effectively with their peers, use a variety of communication forms and improve their presentation skills. By working together on projects in a diverse environment, students will also learn to collaborate effectively as part of a team, nurturing their sense of social and cross-cultural awareness.

Young SBC Student smiling in the class with other students

Life & Career Skills

Our Time to Shine lessons also require students to develop skills beyond communication and subject knowledge. By extending their own investigations for each research task, students will develop their productivity and time management, learn how to work independently and develop their information literacy skills, using their initiative to assume greater control over their own learning.

Where can I find out more about summer learning loss?

Take a look NWEA research to learn how to prevent summer learning loss.

If you would like more information about our academic summer schools, contact our Student Support Team today to see how SBC summer schools can help your child.

Alternatively, please read more about our seven summer schools here.