If there’s one thing that most school children can be reliably predicted to look forward to, it’s the summer holidays. You can be the most eager and diligent student it’s possible to be, but the longest holiday of the year has much appeal. Unfortunately for parents, guardians and teachers, this is also the central issue of a knotty problem. Because the six weeks off from school is, well, six weeks that children aren’t doing schoolwork. Certainly, no one is denying that it’s important that people get to have breaks from work. Burnout can be a serious problem after all.
However, as any teacher can tell you, students coming back from the summer holidays are often not at the top of their game as far as academics go. Knowledge and skills they gained in the previous school year can be lost to a degree. This is known as summer learning loss, and it’s what can happen when students spend six weeks not doing anything academic. So this leaves parents and guardians with a problem that feels like a bit of a tightrope to walk. How do you prevent (or at least limit) summer learning loss for young children without robbing them of their holiday?
Fortunately, once you change your perspective slightly, this becomes a much more manageable problem. The structure of formal education can give the impression that learning has to be ‘work’. So it’s easy to forget that the earliest way that children start to learn is through play. And there are different ways to approach this, depending on what you’re aiming for. If you simply want your children to do something other than sit in front of the TV all summer, there are plenty of fun activities you can do with them outdoors. These experiences will not only engage them more actively than watching TV, but will help them be more physically active. If you’re looking for a quiet activity indoors which can serve as an alternative to TV, encouraging your child to read is an activity with many mental benefits, including increased focus and ability to visualize.
On the other hand, perhaps you’re looking for options which are more specifically focused on different aspects of the school curriculum. If you’re looking for a way to refresh and reinforce material learned in school, there may be a limit to how much of this you can cover via games and outdoor activities. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make going over school material less dry and more engaging. There are plenty of activity booklets for subjects like English and Maths which can make the ‘work’ seem more of a fun activity. Not that this is to say that all the lessons of the curriculum need to be covered via sitting down and writing.
Science is an excellent topic to go over during the summer holidays due to the practical side of it. By engaging your children in practical science experiments, you have a way to engage them in learning in a way that they’ll find entertaining. And it also provides a great opportunity to help increase your child’s interest and confidence in science-based lessons.
Summer learning loss is something which, by definition, teachers are less equipped to deal with than parents or guardians. After all, generally speaking, children don’t see their teachers much over the holidays. And, if they do, it’s considered poor form to try and hand out assignments to do. But that doesn’t mean teachers can’t end the school year in a way that encourages summer learning. While spending the last few lessons of the year watching films is certainly one option, why not give them some puzzles and activities to test themselves on?
In the end, there’s no one perfect way to lessen summer learning loss; it’s simply a matter of picking the methods which work best for your child and their situation.