3 Things You Need to Do to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

Mama, have you heard about summer learning loss and what it means for your kids?

Summer learning loss, commonly called the summer slide, is the tendency for the majority of kids to forget some of what they learned during the school year during the summer months.

Recent studies show that kids in 3rd-5th grade lose:

  • 20% of what they learned in reading
  • 27% of what they learned in math

from the previous school year.

And with many schools closing early this past school year due to the coronavirus pandemic, those numbers can be expected to be even higher during summer 2020.

While I’m all about carefree days to relax and play in the sunshine, I also think it’s important to provide our kids with the right summer bridge activities that can keep them learning and retaining over the summer.

Read on for easy ways to help your kids avoid the summer slide and keep learning over the break from school! 

Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that I may make a small commission if you click through or purchase. I only recommend products that I feel strongly you will love and will help you to live your mom life on purpose.

you can prevent summer learning loss for you kids

Before we dive in, if you are thinking about homeschooling next year (or you think you might HAVE to homeschool!), check out my free homeschool schedule printable right here! 

Summer Learning Activity #1: READ

One of the very best things we can do to help our kids with summer learning is to READ.

An alarming statistic from Scholastic revealed that the number of kids who read zero books over the summer rose from 15% in 2016 to 20% in 2018 across all age levels.

I love what Deimosa Webber-Bey, senior librarian at Scholastic says: “Summer presents an opportunity for families and communities to play an active role in ensuring all children can find their story and enjoy the benefits of summer reading.” 

reading is one of the most important aspects of summer learning

A really great fact is that it doesn’t really matter WHAT your kids read, as long as they do. So let them dive into Captain Underpants if they must. And take a sigh of relief because there’s absolutely no need to dig deep into Shakespeare at all (unless you really want to!)!

Here are some great ways to help your kids read more over the summer:

Read aloud 

Reading aloud is a fantastic way to help our kids with their summer learning. Remember, you don’t have to read anything profound or even super literary. But it is important that it happens because it makes a big difference.

Here are some of my favorite picks for read aloud books by age: 

reading aloud is a great way for summer learning to happenWhat to read aloud for toddlers (ages 2-4)

Some of my very favorite read aloud books for toddlers are easiest to identify by author. 

  1. Dr. Seuss. Some of our favorites are Fox in Socks, The Lorax,  In a People House, and Hop on Pop. We love this great collection of his most famous stories all in one book! 
  2. Eric Carle. He is most famous for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but this book set here contains our very favorite story by him – The Mixed Up Chameleon
  3. Corey Rosen Schwartz. She offers so many creative retellings of classic stories, such as The Three Ninja Pigs, Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears, Ninja Red Riding Hood, and more. 
  4. Keiko Kasza. All of my kids have loved Badger’s Fancy Meal and My Lucky Day – and I love that both stories have a great moral to them as well! 

What to read aloud for young kids (ages 4-6)

  1. The Dragon Masters series by Tracey West. My boys have especially loved this series about an 8-year-old boy who is chosen to be a dragon master in medieval times.
  2. The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. One of the most popular early chapter book series, The Magic Tree House books are awesome for introducing different time periods throughout history.
  3. Rainbow Magic by Daisy Meadows. This is a gigantic series about two girls who help save fairies of all colors, seasons, musical varieties, etc. It is easily broken down into smaller arcs of 7 books each.
  4. Mermaid Tales by Debbie Dadey. If you have a mermaid enthusiast at your house, this sweet series is all about 4 mermaid friends and their adventures.

What to read aloud for older kids (ages 7 and up)

If you have kids across a wide age span, go ahead and try some of these books for older kids. In my experience, it is easier to get the younger kids interested in something beyond their level than to get the older kids interested in something lower than their level. 

Here’s a few that would be perfect summer reads:

  1. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. Four orphaned and highly gifted kids are hand-picked to perform special missions and solve puzzles to defeat the enemy. 
  2. Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein. This is a fun, fast-paced series where the hero is always solving a puzzle to make it to the next stage of the game. 
  3. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. And old favorite, this series is centered on Greek mythology. 
  4. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. Every best series list must include Harry Potter! While some of the later books in the series have been criticized for being too adult, we’ve read them successfully as a family twice. 
  5. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing series by Judy Blume. These books about a tween boy and his hilarious little brother have my kids LOLing all throughout the books. 
  6. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. The first book in the series won a Newbery Honor Medal. It is so action-packed, both boys and girls will love it. 
  7. How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell. While the movies are great, the books are even better! The characters are the same, but your kids will love reading Hiccup’s different book adventures for sure. 

When to read aloud

You may already have a habit of reading to your kids before bed. If not, this is a great time to start! Once your kids are ready for bed, turn down the lights (or use a flashlight – they’ll think this is fun!) and read to them for as long as you’d like. Five to ten minutes, or even longer, is great!

If you are already reading to your kids at bedtime, you may consider adding another read-aloud session during the day throughout the summer. 

After breakfast, we always gather together for a short family devotional and our beloved read-aloud time. Sometimes we sit outside on the patio, around our school desk, or curled up on the living room couches. Reading together in the morning gives us a good structure to beginning our summer days.

Individual reading

Another great way to avoid summer learning loss is lots of individual reading time! Any of the books I mentioned above would be great selections, but the age recommendations will vary greatly based on your kid’s individual reading skills and interests.

When to read individually

individual reading is so important to prevent the summer slideAt our house we have quiet time everyday after lunch for one hour. This is a time when my kids are expected to be in their rooms either reading or playing quietly.

Quiet time has been a work in progress for us over the past few months. We started with the kids staying in their rooms for 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, then 45 minutes. My kids who can read spend the majority of quiet time curled up with their favorite book.

Reading incentive programs

It is always fun to find an incentive program for summer reading! In years’ past, our local library has hosted a summer reading program with calendars and prizes for completing so many books or hours of reading. My kids always loved checking off their books or minutes on their own charts.

If your local library doesn’t have a summer program, check to see if your kid’s school or a local business has a summer reading program already in place! 

While reading is super essential to helping kids with summer learning, there is still a lot more that can be done! Keep reading to find out my favorite way to encourage summer learning for ALL subjects! 

helping your kids with summer learning is easier than you think

Summer Learning Activity #2: Workbooks

Purchasing a summer workbook for my kids every summer has always been one of the best investments in their summer learning!

Have you ever tried getting your kids to do a summer workbook? I honestly thought putting pencil to paper might bring some groans from my kids, but they didn’t complain at all about the Brain Quest workbooks!

Brain Quest Grade Level Workbooks

My very favorite workbooks are the Brain Quest grade level workbooks. They are top-notch and provide an excellent review of everything the kids were taught during the school year. 

The Brain Quest workbooks are divided into 13 color-coded topics and come with a fun sticker page and educational poster in the back as well. You can check them out here: 

I recommend having your kids do a page or two in a few sections each day to really combat that summer learning loss.

my kids with their Brain Quest workbooksHelp provided

If you’re concerned about whether you’ll be able to help your kids if they need it, don’t worry at all! Every page of the workbook has a small “Brain Box” section that explains each concept clearly. (To be honest, I’ve learned a thing or two from the Brain Boxes myself!) Also, all of the answers are included in the answer section at the back of the book. 

Make it fun

Because these workbooks are quite extensive, we offer our kids a little incentive for finishing the whole thing cover to cover: an ice cream date and a small gift of their choosing.

It has been awesome to see my kids get to work with a goal in mind!

Prep for the next grade

summer learning loss can be stopped with very simple activities like workbooksBrain Quest also has some fantastic summer workbooks to help prepare kids for the upcoming school year. 

These workbooks are even more fun than their grade-level counterparts! Each workbook features a pull-out poster with a fun “quest” where your kids collect stickers to place along a winding path as they finish different workbook pages. 

The summer workbooks also include outdoor learning activities, such as drawing and practicing fractions with sidewalk chalk or jumping rope while rhyming. 

Here are the links for the summer Brain Quest workbooks for you to check out. Just choose the workbook that has the grades your child is currently in between! 

Interest-based workbooks

If your kids have a specific passion or interest, you could certainly look for a more targeted workbook that might excite them!

My 6-year-old son who loves numbers is having a fantastic time with this soduku book for kids. He is so excited that he’s already at “apprentice” level in the book!

My daughter who is really into Harry Potter loves this cursive handwriting book that has her practicing all the Harry Potter character names, spells, and magical words in cursive.

If your child enjoys Minecraft, check out this workbook that focuses on having Minecraft type adventures in multiplication and division! 

Or if you have a younger kid who loves all things Disney princess, this princess alphabet tracing workbook is sure to be a hit too! 

chess is a great learning game

Summer Learning Activity #3: Experience learning 

A fantastic way to help your kids with summer learning is by providing lots of educational experiences! There are many events and venues that can be educational – especially in areas of science, math and social studies.

Science kits 

If you are looking for fun summer activities to do at home with your kids, try a simple science kit! There are lots of great options available.

Here are a few we’ve had awesome success with:

Learning experiences

going to a museum is a great way to foster summer learningWhether you’re planning to stay home or venture out and about, there are many opportunities for learning experiences all around us.

Here’s a quick list of summer learning experience ideas:

  • fly kites or blow bubbles and learn about birds, flight, clouds, or the sun
  • go swimming and discuss the three states of matter, the water cycle, or the ocean
  • visit a zoo or aquarium and learn about an animal or two
  • bake a treat together and talk about nutrition, or chemical and physical changes
  • go camping and learn about fire, the stars and constellations
  • visit any museum (history, science, art, etc!) and read the guidebook together at home
  • watch 4th of July fireworks and learn about fire, the night sky, or the American Revolution

Final thoughts on summer learning

Helping our kids avoid the summer slide is so important! And it really can be quite easy.

Finding time to read aloud, encouraging individual reading, pulling out a workbook a few times a week, and finding learning experiences around you will help your kids show up for next school year with a huge advantage.

Related articles about summer ideas for kids: 

How to Create an Awesome Family Summer Bingo Board

Related articles about home education:

What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Homeschooling

 

Now I want to hear from you! What have you done in the past to prevent summer learning loss for your kids?

summer learning for kids is something any parent can help with
3 Things You Need to Do to Prevent Summer Learning Loss
3 Things You Need to Do to Prevent Summer Learning Loss
3 Things You Need to Do to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

40 thoughts on “3 Things You Need to Do to Prevent Summer Learning Loss”

    1. This is interesting! Never knew about the summer loss. Although my toddler is 2 years old, we definitely take out the time to read aloud. Hungry caterpillar is our favorite too!

      1. Hi Surabhi! Thanks for your comment! I must say, I do miss those Hungry Caterpillar days! You’re doing great to be reading with your little one already.

  1. I have such fond memories of Summer reading programs at the library, both from when I was little and when my daughter was. I had no idea the numbers were so high for learning loss in Summer months – and you’re right – this year being a short one at school will not help.

    1. I know, Jen! I loved the Book It! program from Pizza Hut growing up! Our current schooling situation is so crazy. I really hope we can help our kids with summer learning because they’ll need it so much!

  2. These are such good tips! It’s good to stay in a routine over the summer. But, these provide ways to make it fun and still give the kids a break!

  3. Hi Jenn,

    I’m so happy to see a post like this! I’m a 6th grade teacher && the summer slide is a real thing!

    The kids who do work over the summer (even if it’s just a little) do much better at quickly adapting back into the school environment.

    Next year, we don’t even know how much our kids will have lost!

    1. Hi Josephine! Thanks so much for your comment and your social proof!!! That means a lot! You are so right about not knowing what next year will be like – all the more reason to try to help our kids as much as possible with summer learning!

  4. Reading is the big one in our house. The kids have to read and they get to pick what they read, but they have to read. And visiting national parks and doing the jr. ranger programs also helps 🙂

    1. National park visits and the Jr. Ranger program are definitely fantastic learning resources, Sarah! And I definitely agree about letting kids pick what to read for themselves!

  5. Omg! Love this! Especially the breakdown of different subjects. I think this can help retention and enrichment in those areas kids may struggle with or want to learn more details.

  6. Summer learning is incredibly important, especially this summer with schools being closed early and distance learning happening at home. My boys weren’t thrilled to do more ‘schooling’ at home this summer but they do pages out of a workbook every day. Thanks for all the great resources!

    1. You are doing awesome, mama! I know kids may not love it at first – but let’s hope its like eating vegetables – they get more tasty over time, right?!

  7. What great tips for parents! These will definitely come in handy since so many children have been off for so long. When I was a teacher, I would always tell parents, “If they don’t use it, they’ll lose it.”

  8. We’ve been doing workbooks and writing activities a few days a week, and we read every day. Hopefully it all adds up! Thanks for sharing these great resources.

  9. Brain drain during the summer has always been a problem. Encouraging our kids to read throughout the summer, for sure, is one of the most important things I think we can do as parents to keep children’s minds intellectually active and well as to raise kids who love books.

  10. This is a great list. I plan on continuing homeschooling through this summer and will definitely check back. Hopefully school will be back in session in the fall. HOPEFULLY I’ll be comfortable sending my kids TO school in the fall, wah. #pandemic

  11. This is such an informative post!
    And thanks for sharing all those resources!

    My kids love to read.
    During the past two months that schools were closed for us, my 7yo read the Dog Man series, Tom Gates series and Geronimo Stilton series. He found How To Train A Dragon series a little too difficult though. And my 3 and 5 yo enjoy Dr Seuss books! The rhyming words make the books wonderful for reading out aloud.

    Will definitely check out the other books you shared.

    Thanks so much for this!

  12. Sara - Seek Discover Learn

    We homeschool and never really completely “stop” for the summer. We just lighten our workload a little bit. So instead of doing a math lesson every day I have my kids (ages 11, 10 and 9) play a math game together. I read aloud to them every day for an hour after lunch, which is our favorite time of the day. We also hit up the library and have plenty of books on hand for them to read. They each are responsible for reading one book a day to their 4 year old sister. Doing small things helps to make sure they are always learning, and it definitely makes the transition into “full time” school in the fall a lot easier.

  13. Now this is something really productive for mothers out there and very well written. Even when my kid is not school going yet, still I feel the need of saving this blog as this is amazing!

  14. Thank you for all the great tips. I think it’s so important to read and do activities that consolidate what children have learned earlier in the year.

  15. As an educator, I’m so glad to see this article! I’m interested to see what summer learning looks like for families this year after distancing learning this spring. Many parents and kids are now aware of and equipped with more free online resources at their fingertips for reinforcement of reading and math skills. Hopefully, there are some benefits of this crazy 19-20 school year! Fingers crossed that public libraries will be able to safely open again soon. I’m dying to take my toddler to storytime!

  16. These are really great tips! My daughter is going to kindergarten next year and I’m worried that she lost so much with quarantine and not being able to finish preschool. Definitely pinning this for reference!

  17. Even though my son is not school going yet, he will be 2 years in the coming august but still I found this blog really beneficial and I think I might need this when he will grow up

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