Tips to avoid the summer learning slump

Partners Post, May 2014

The Pennsylvania State Education Association's Solutions That Work (STW) initiative includes compelling information about policies and practices to maximize academic learning time in school while supporting learning outside of school.

As the STW report notes, evidence suggests that schools do a tremendous job of equalizing learning across high- and low-income students during the school year, but this cannot offset the unequal learning opportunities during a child’s out-of-school time. 

One study found that about one-third of achievement test score differences between low- and high-income students could be traced to academic differences that existed prior to starting first grade, and the other two-thirds of test score differences could be traced to summer learning differences through elementary school. Read more about the research and recommendations on this important issue.

And, as the regular school year winds down, remember to take steps to help the children in your life stay engaged and learning. Here are some key tips from teachers and education support professionals:

Read, read, and read some more. Make reading a part of every summer day. Suggest that your child read the newspaper, magazines, comics, or books — anything of interest. Ask questions about the reading and discuss your child’s favorite topics or interests. For younger children, try setting a time each day to read aloud together.

Visit the library. This, too, will help reinforce the importance of reading, as well as provide additional benefits. Ask about library programs and activities for your child’s participation, get your child his/her own library card, and encourage expanded reading options.

Connect reading, math, and other learning to daily life. Try to find opportunities to reinforce learning in any daily routine. Have your child count and calculate costs at the store, determine measurements while cooking, or use age-appropriate tools to build something; read menus, road signs, maps, or anything else related to daily activities.

Engage in creative pursuits with arts and crafts. Sites such as and NGA Kids at the National Gallery of Art offer various age/grade appropriate ideas that can help stimulate a child’s imagination and creativity.

Summertime can be a great time to help with healthy eating habits. Ideas and tips are available at Let’s Move! and There is also information available about the USDA Summer Food Program, which was established to ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.




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