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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Mason, Ph.D.

Summer Learning Loss

Updated: Jun 7, 2019


What is summer learning loss?

Basically, students lose academic skills over the summer because they are not engaging in learning experiences.

Why should you care about summer learning loss?

Honestly, you may not care about summer learning loss. All students take the summer off, so they all lose skills during the summer. Most teachers spend four to eight weeks reviewing academic skills at the beginning of the year. If your child was working at or above grade level last year, you personally may have no concerns about them losing learning over the summer.

However, if your child was not working at grade level or above, you probably should be concerned about summer learning loss. Or, at least, look at summer as a valuable time that will allow your child to catch up to their peers. By working with your child during the summer, you can help them be prepared for the next year.

Your child can make tremendous academic gains over the summer if you put them in an appropriate program, or work with them consistently and at their level. Instead of your child having summer learning loss, they can have learning gains during the summer. Without having the summer learning loss that other students are having during the summer, they can be at higher levels than their peers who did not take part in learning activities.

What can you do about Summer Learning Loss?

RAND has completed many research projects recently focusing on summer learning programs. Schwartz, McCombs, Augustine, and Leschitz (2018) found that summer programs that had the following features were best for preventing summer learning loss.

Regular Attendance

Students who get 34 hours of English/Language Arts and 25 hours of Math instruction over a summer have the greatest gains.

Individualized Instruction

Students are instructed at their academic level.

Smaller Class Size

This helps with individualized instruction.

Parental Involvement

This maximizes children’s attendance in the program.

High-Quality Instruction

Research-based instruction ensures higher learning gains than instruction not based on research.

Alignment of the school year and summer curricula

Schools and summer learning programs should work together.

Content beyond remediation

Students should have opportunities to do fun activities.

Tracking of effectiveness

You must check to see how the children are doing.

What if I don’t have access to summer learning programs that have these features?

Based on the research from RAND, you will have to make a large time commitment to ensure that your child does not have summer learning loss. Rand recommends that students have 34 hours of English/Language Arts and 25 hours of Math over the summer.

Here are some suggestions:


  • Five hours of reading a week.

  • You can sign up for my free summer reading strategies freebie here. It will give you specific reading strategies and tips on how to schedule reading.


  • Four or more hours a week.

  • An easy thing to do in the summer is Bedtime Math. This is a research-based program that you do nightly before your children go to sleep.

  • Another free site is Khan Academy. They have a lot of free math activities from the pre-school to college level.

  • I would also look up math games. There are a lot of fun math games using a deck of cards and/or dice. I have been compiling math games on my Pinterest account. Check it out here. A favorite game for my students is Bump.


In some ways, writing is the hardest to do in the summer. The easiest thing to do is to have your child write in a journal daily. They can just write about one thing that happened that day. I also have collected some writing ideas (including games) here.

Once a week, have your child pick a journal entry that they would like to improve and expand on. Sit down and help them figure out how they can improve it and turn it into an essay.

I also have some writing activities here.

Science and Social Studies/History

Go to museums and other places you can go to learn about science and history.

For science, look up STEM or STEAM activities on Pinterest or the Internet. There are a lot of fun and easy to do activities.

Also, check out my Pinterest account—I have been compiling math games, learning activities, summer activities, and more.

I would be more than happy to work with your child over the summer. I can create a personalized program to help your child make significant gains. Because education therapy is done individually with an learning expert, most students make gains in three months with sessions three days a week.

Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun! Not only are fun activities important period, but these activities also help with developing social skills and problem-solving skills. These are just as important as academic skills!

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