Parents worry about the huge loss of learning over summer. Here’s my advice to bridge the gap between school years, and still have fun along the way.
The summer break: What happens?
Teachers have long noticed that when our students come back to school after a long break it can be like starting all over again. I spend a lot of time at the beginning of a new school year going over the basic skills to refamiliarise students with what may have been lost over summer. I can visibly see some children struggle to ‘bring back’ their past learning, and with the rising pressures of education, the start of a new school year isn’t always a reset in terms if what they need to know.
The roots of this lie in recall and memory. Unfortunately, when students stop attending school, information and knowledge are no longer regularly accessed, causing their minds to push the information away. The biggest losses can be seen in reading and maths, skills that without regular recall and practice, become less adept.
Notice your children going back to school in September and coming home incredibly exhausted? Without regular training and practice, the brain struggles to cope, and tires much quicker. Learning is a habit that needs practice, fostering and nurturing 👍🏼
Recent studies show that during the summer break students can lose knowledge that has taken an average of one month to acquire. In some subjects that loss can be as high as 2.6 months’ worth of study! So what can you do about it?
Motivation: How can you help them study?
The thought of guiding children in their learning through a time when children want to be doing everything but, is a daunting one for most, irrespective of year-group or ability. Little and often is the key to success! Rest, recuperation and recovery are incredibly important after a busy school year (for parents, students and teachers!), but after a short break, introducing learning in small, digestible chunks can make all the difference 🚀
👉🏼 As an English teacher, I will promote reading at every opportunity. Reading creates curious, intelligent, thoughtful, empathetic students who are critical thinkers. Choosing an age-appropriate reading challenge over the summer period gives students something to challenge themselves with and aim for. They can buddy up with friends, too and choose and share their reads! Children can also read anywhere if and when you travel.
Choosing 3-5 books of varying difficulty across the summer (and allowing children to be creative with these choices themselves) means they’ll go back to school after the break feeling equipped to take on new learning. Ask them about new characters, words and ideas as they go! 📕
👉🏼 A lack of subject knowledge can lead to boredom, disinterest and having no enthusiasm to learn, meaning parents become responsible for having the answers, and in encouraging their children to stay motivated.
Whilst it can be tempting to appear as though you know all of the answers, the most useful tool a parent can give their children is to teach them how, not just what to learn. Knowledge organisers for a topic or subject are an invaluable resource for all stages of development, setting out useful and powerful knowledge, often on a single page. Parents can shape their teaching creatively around these digestible tools, and model how to search for information when it can’t be recalled by working memory alone.
This retrieval tool can help to gain, retain and build knowledge beyond the scope of the lesson, and deeper into children’s long-term memory. Not sure where to start? Parents can speak to the child’s school in advance about knowledge organisers for each topic on the curriculum, or search websites like TES for free resources. Coming back to these a few times a week across the summer can be the difference between forgetting it forever.
For older children, testing their knowledge using online programmes like Seneca (which parents can check) means topics are mastered before moving on. Quizzes are as short as 3-5 minutes!
👉🏼 As well as little and often, staying active and providing treats and rewards along the way will keep children motivated and engaged. Consider writing out targets for each week on colourful paper, and use stickers and pens to tick off challenges. Reward children with their favourite treats for all they achieve. Couple this with lots of activities like cycling, team games, swimming and ball sports to have some time away from books and screens.
Now more than ever, more and more children are behind due to losing time at school, due to lockdowns as well as the summer break. We can help to bridge that gap! Book a free trial tutoring class with one of our experts! With our Summer Tutoring Plans, we can work closely with your child to make up for lost learning.