Six Ways to Avoid Learning Loss Over Breaks

A "break" in school does not mean a break from learning

Six Ways to Avoid Learning Loss Over Breaks

For most students (and teachers), the long summer and winter breaks are a time to relax and forget about school. Unfortunately, many studies have shown that the learning loss for students during these long breaks can be very detrimental. Studies show even the short 2-3 weeks winter break can be a problem, so you can imagine how large the learning losses over summer can be. For example, Oxford Learning has found that due to long summer breaks:

- Students lose 2.6 months of math skills
- Students lose 2 months of reading skills
- Most of the achievement gap by the time a student reaches high school is due to learning loss over the summer.
- Teachers often must spend 6 weeks at the beginning of the school year teaching old material.

Just because it is a “break” from school does not mean it must be a “break” from learning. Studies have shown that investing just 2-3 hours per week can avoid learning loss over the breaks. Here are some ideas to try and fill these hours (and remember that more is better):

1. Reading: The best part about reading is that it is available to everyone, requires less parental planning and supervision and does not have to cost any money. Reading can also be done on vacations. Local libraries are great places to visit over the breaks, as many of them offer special programs. Even if there is nothing special going on, every child can find something that is interesting at the library. With technology, today’s kids can also read on their electronic devices if they cannot make it to the library. You can even create family or friend “book clubs” to encourage your child to read.

2. Museums:
I know this may not be an option for all kids, but remember all we need is a few hours a week. Museums are an excellent place to stimulate the brain. Just do an Internet search for any local places that may offer programs for kids during the breaks.

3. Educational Apps or Programs:
There are many different options available for learning using today’s technology for all levels and subjects. Practice math one day, and then read an online story another. There is enough online to keep anyone from getting bored. Just be careful to monitor what your kids think is “educational.”

4. Math Worksheets:
There are lots of free worksheets online that you can download and print. Just target your child to do one or two sheets per week to keep their math skills sharp.

5. Projects:
STEM is all about project-based learning. Maybe your child can help cook meals (measuring, reading recipes, concentration), or build a dog house (math, measuring, engineering). The projects do not have to be large or take a long time. See if you can challenge them to create a way to fold laundry more efficiently. The idea is to keep the mind working during these breaks.

6. Physical Activity: It may not always directly lead to learning, but it will help give your child more energy during the times when learning is taking place. Limit “screen time” and get outside. Many areas have community swimming pools or camps to keep your child active.

It is important for parents not to go overboard or overly pressure or push their kids during this time. They do deserve a break, so let them have it. The learning activities should be fun and enjoyable. We are not trying to create little Einsteins over the break. We just want to make sure they are keeping up with their peers.

About the Author
A former science teacher in Georgia, Dr. Michael Tolmich is now USATestprep’s Science Content Team Leader. He lives with his wife and their two sons in Tucker, GA.


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