Summer “Brain Drain” or Summer Learning Loss

It’s June. Almost the end of the school year.  Students are bursting with energy awaiting the final school bell of the year, the moment when school is out for the summer.  Summer is a much needed break for students and is a time for them to enjoy being active and outdoors. However, just because students are not in school, does not mean that pause should be pressed on their learning.

Over the summer, students start to lose knowledge they learned in the previous year. Unfortunately, students brains can’t just go on vacation and retain everything they learned up until the summer bell. According to Dr. Harris Cooper at Duke University, students on average lose 1-3 months worth of learning over the summer months. According to Psychology Today, the typical student loses one to two months of learning in reading and one to three months of learning in math. In addition to this standard summer learning loss, students have 2 years of virtual school and school closures to deal with. A study published in 2020, in American Education Research Journal, followed students in grades 1 through 6 over five summers. It showed 52% of students lost an average of 39% of their total school year gains during the summer months (2020, K-12 Dive). Now, more than ever, students need to be learning over the summer. Here are tips for getting them learning this summer. Take authentic learning opportunities: use children’s interests to investigate, explore and grow. Get them writing: have children write to their friends (whether it be an email, or a text message, or a letter) have them write. Have them read: visit the library, read together, start a new series, let them stay up ten minutes extra to read their book. Have them bake/help cook: recipes involves fractions and simple math, have a sous-chef or assistant in the kitchen help you with cooking while they learn math. Host a lemonade stand/garage sale: as a business owner, they will have to be in charge of giving change to their customers. Get them outside: Through exploring and processing the world around them children learn. Learn with them, ask questions and embrace their sense of wonder. Encourage them to play and socialize: a lot of learning is done through children’s interactions with their peers. Hire a tutor: if possible, have children work with a tutor to further their education (it helps take pressure off of the parent as well – many school boards are providing funding for tutoring at the moment).Have a daily study session: Popular Book Company has a summer bridging workbook available to help cover the basics between each grade.  Work together for 15-20 minutes a day.

Learn more:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/how-to-prevent-summer-brain-drain-tips-from-teachers/2013/06/04/32ca7de2-c14d-11e2-8bd8-2788030e6b44_story.html

https://www.dcdsb.ca/en/programs-services/Beat-Summer-Brain-Drain.aspx

https://www.brookings.edu/research/summer-learning-loss-what-is-it-and-what-can-we-do-about-it/

https://www.k12dive.com/news/study-more-than-half-of-students-lost-39-of-years-learning-over-summer/581365/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/evidence-based-living/202007/what-we-know-about-summer-learning-loss-update