The ‘Summer Slide’ may sound like fun from a child’s point of view, conjuring up images of splashing around in a water park on sunny days. An understandable assumption – but in reality it’s actually a term used to describe the learning loss that can occur over the summer months while formal learning goes on hold for the school holidays.
Indeed, research indicates that children may lose knowledge that has taken them an average of one month to acquire. In some subjects that loss can be as high as 2.6 months’ worth of study. From a parent’s perspective, that’s a pretty scary statistic, and clearly, this will have implications for academic progress on their return to school in September.
At A Star Tuition Group our stance is that despite this, there is no need to panic! While children need time to unwind and enjoy themselves over the holiday period, there are ways to sneak in some informal learning to keep their minds engaged.
Primary age children
Reading is key. Evidence shows that pupils who read during the summer gain on average one month’s proficiency, while students who don’t, can lose two to three months proficiency.
It’s important for children to be able to select books which appeal to them but equally a little nudge towards titles that will challenge them and increase their vocabulary won’t go amiss.
And as it’s summer, they can read almost anywhere, so make it fun – be it in a tent, a hammock or treehouse!
Keeping a diary is a fun way to improve writing skills. While writing a real life journal will help to do this, how about an imaginative diary instead? On Tuesday they could be exploring the jungle with David Attenborough and on Thursday playing in the cup final at Wembley alongside their favourite footballer. Ideal for letting their imaginations run wild.
When it comes to maths, most children wouldn’t necessarily thank you for giving them formal questions to do in the summer holidays. Why not try asking them to start a collection of coins, shells or stamps then add in a maths angle on the ‘QT’ and they’re doing this without even realising.
For example, they could focus on collecting a certain number or a single type of shell, or arrange the collection according to shape or size, meaning your child learns to grasp different mathematical concepts as well as building a fantastic collection.
Older children may well view reading books for pleasure as low down on their list of priorities.
Secondary school pupils already don’t read enough age-appropriate, challenging books, according to the tenth annual What Kids Are Reading report, which surveyed nearly a million school pupils in Britain and Ireland.
Suggesting books geared towards topics or ideas they are already interested in can be one way of drawing them in. After all, extensive reading leads to faster reading speed and ability to process texts whilst making them better writers by giving them massive amounts of input on usage and vocabulary.
Not to mention that it keeps them off the screens!
If the adults around them are reading for pleasure, teens are more likely to pick up on the idea that this is a worthwhile activity. You could even set aside a couple of tech-free hours each week as a family reading evening so that everyone sits down to enjoy their own book at the same time.
Coding provides a fantastic opportunity for kids to develop a variety of skills and it’s also fun!
Problem-solving, analytical skills and creativity are all enhanced by getting involved. The same goes for maths skills.
Coding can be used to create websites, video games and apps. It is also an essential part of artificial intelligence and machine learning -a prospect which could well be enough to get your child hooked!
Once your child reaches the teen years, volunteering may provide the perfect opportunity for informal learning. As well as building self-esteem, increasing empathy and developing teamworking skills, there is evidence that volunteering is linked to stronger academic performance too.
It makes sense to steer your teen towards a charity that resonates with their interests whether that’s animal or environment focused, or involves supporting children or the elderly.
A productive summer on the learning front needn’t lack fun-it’s all about balancing the two in creative ways!