Minimize the Summer Learning Gap with Technology and More
Posted by MAXCases Admin on May 4, 2023

Most educators have experienced first hand what is commonly known as the “summer learning gap,” which can result in the need to spend weeks or months at the start of the school year reviewing material from the previous year. The common belief, which has been supported by multiple studies, is that students often forget some of what they have learned, or simply fall out of practice in academic areas during summer vacation.

However, more recent studies done by the Brookings Institute find that the answer may not be as clear cut as previously believed. In fact, it’s natural - and can actually be healthy - to forget some material as the human mind prioritizes what is most important to remember. And, although more recent studies show a more significant loss in math and a moderate loss in reading skills, they don’t clearly illustrate whether the problem is trivial or serious.

Summer Enrichment Programs

Even though the final verdict seems to be out regarding the seriousness of the summer learning gap, providing enrichment programs for children during the summer months is still extremely beneficial. Not only can this enrichment support reading, math and other core learning areas, it can provide the opportunity to learn about completely new subjects, or dive deeper into areas of interest. Here are some resources to explore:

Local Schools. Many schools may offer summer classes, camps or other enrichment programs for students. Start at your child’s current school, then check out other schools in your community. High schools may offer camps for younger kids to introduce them to various subjects, sports, or may have opportunities for older students.
Local Colleges. In a similar manner, colleges often use summer to introduce their programs to high school students in hopes of recruiting them in the future.
Public Libraries. Many public libraries will offer a variety of activities, camps and programs to encourage continued reading during the summer months.
Community Centers. Depending on your community, you may be able to find enrichment programs at local churches, the YMCA, or other community centers for the summer.

Using Technology to Continue Learning

While parents are often well aware of the over-reliance on screens during the summer months, judicial use of technology can support learning during summer break. Here are some ways technology can minimize the learning gap.

Online Courses. Many online programs offer remedial or accelerated online courses designed for summer completion. Specialty online programs for high school students are also available.
Creativity Tools. A wide range of apps and software are available for students to express their creative side. Story creation, art and illustration, animation and video tools can help your students create their own productions.
Educational Video Games. Many students love to play video games; ideally, these games accomplish education as well as entertainment. Research some of the best educational video games to add to your students’ screen time.
Science and Technology Options. While many science-based websites, online courses, and games are available, technology-enabled models and experiments can be a valuable adjunct to summer activities.

Expert Advice from Educators to Parents

According to a Teacher Revolution survey, 76 percent of teachers believe it’s “extremely important” to practice skills over the summer. This may be because 85 percent of them spend at least two weeks or more reteaching in the fall.

Here are some tips from teachers to help:

Read. Many libraries host summer reading programs to encourage reading during the summer months, but teachers suggest having kids read whenever the opportunity arises. This may include travel guides when planning a vacation, instructions when assembling something, or learning a new game, and signage when you’re out and about.
Write. Help children keep their writing skills in shape by starting a summer journal about the things they have done. Encourage them to incorporate artwork, drawings, or photos to create a keepsake of the summer. If you have friends or relatives far away, suggest old-fashioned letter writing; children still love receiving snail mail, even in today’s electronic age.
Games. Ditch the video games for a while and engage your kids in card or board games that are not only fun but encourage basic skills such as counting, matching or even critical thinking for older teens.
Get Outdoors. There’s nothing quite like spending time outside to learn about plants, trees, insects, and animals. Although kids may be active in organized sports, be sure to leave some leisure time to just enjoy the weather and observe things while taking a hike, playing in a creek, or fishing at a pond.
Set Aside Time. If your student needs to brush up or catch up, setting aside just 15 minutes a day for a particular activity can make a significant difference. Check out online resources such as Khan Academy.
Plan It! Parents are usually great about signing up kids for various activities but less so for planning unplanned time where creativity and innovation can occur. Brainstorm with your kids to come up with a list that gets them excited and helps you achieve your goal of minimizing the summer learning gap while having fun.

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