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Summer learning loss: Tips and activities to keep students engaged

Help your child keep learning this summer

As the school year comes to a close, parents often find themselves concerned that their children will experience the dreaded “summer slide.” This phenomenon, also known as summer learning loss, can lead to a decline in academic skills over the summer months. As the leader of Washington Connections Academy, a tuition-free online virtual program that serves students in grades K-12 across Washington state, I know that with the right strategies in place, parents can help prevent the summer slide and keep their children engaged in learning throughout the summer break.

What Is the “Summer Slide”?

Summer slide refers to the loss of academic skills and knowledge that can occur when students are away from school during the summer months. Research has shown that the summer slide can significantly impact a student’s academic achievement – particularly in subjects like math and spelling. According to the National Summer Learning Association, the summer slide tends to severely affect low-to-moderate-income students and families.

Tips for Combating Summer Learning Loss

    • Encourage non-school-related summer reading:
      One of the most effective ways to prevent the summer slide is to encourage children to read for pleasure during the summer break. Research shows that when children can choose their reading materials, they are more likely to enjoy reading and experience gains in reading achievement. Whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, or comics, encouraging children to read topics they are interested in can help keep them engaged and motivated to learn.
    • Join a summer reading program:
      Many libraries offer summer reading programs designed to combat the summer slide and promote a love of reading. These programs often include incentives and rewards for reaching reading goals, making reading a fun and engaging activity for children of all ages. By participating in a summer reading program, children can stay motivated to read throughout the summer break while also developing important literacy skills.
    • Use summer vacations as learning opportunities:
      Summer vacations provide unique opportunities for learning outside of the school year. Parents can incorporate learning into summer vacations by choosing destinations that align with their children’s interests and academic goals. For example, visiting historical sites, museums, or national parks can provide hands-on learning experiences that complement classroom learning. Parents can also encourage children to research destinations and plan activities, fostering independence and critical thinking skills.
    • Get involved in STEM activities outdoors:
      The summer months offer endless opportunities for outdoor exploration and hands-on learning in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Parents can engage children in STEM activities by going on nature hikes, conducting simple science experiments, or exploring the night sky with a telescope. By incorporating STEM activities into outdoor play, parents can help children develop problem-solving skills and curiosity about the world around them.
    • Create a summer break study plan:
      For parents seeking a more structured approach to preventing the summer slide, online resources and summer school programs can be valuable tools. Many online platforms offer interactive lessons and activities in subjects like math and spelling, allowing children to continue learning at their own pace. Following a summer break study plan, parents can ensure their children stay engaged in learning and enter the new school year feeling confident and prepared.

Combating summer learning loss requires creativity, engagement, and structured learning opportunities. By encouraging children to read for pleasure, participating in summer reading programs, incorporating learning into summer vacations, exploring STEM activities outdoors, or following a summer break study plan, parents can help prevent the summer slide and support their children’s academic growth throughout the summer break. With these tips and strategies in place, children can return to school in the fall ready to succeed and thrive academically.

About the Author

Jenn Francis is the School Leader of Washington Connections Academy. Ms. Francis began her career in education in 2008 when she taught chemistry and physics at private and public middle and high schools in Texas. She then became a Science Academic Coach in Georgia, where she helped design research-based curriculum and led the after-school program for credit and attendance recovery. Before joining Connections Academy, she was an Assistant Principal for a K-12 blended learning charter school in Hawaii. She understands the realm of virtual education and sees its need and value for students. To learn more about Washington Connections Academy, visit or call 1-800-382-6010 for more information.

About the Author

Jenn Francis, School Leader of Washington Connections Academy