How to keep kids learning over the summer

School’s out for summer! And as fun as that is to say, there’s a real danger for students during the summer: learning loss. Studies have shown that kids can lose up to a month of learning from falling out of practice.

So, to help your child stay on track for the next school year, here are five ways to keep them learning over the summer.

Read, baby, read

We preach to kids all school year about the importance of reading. Since kids aren’t in the same kind of learning environment, it’s even more important that they read every single day.

Here’s a fun game – incentivize reading for your child. Creating a progress tracker and having them mark off every book they read, or every number of pages can be a fun way of tracking their progress and making it fun.

Some kids might have access to Accelerated Reader over the summer so they can collect words towards their reading goal. If not, you can still track how many words you child has read using a service like Book Finder and add that to a progress monitoring chart.

Hone math skills with Khan Academy

OK, there are a lot of ways a student can reinforce their math skills over summer. Khan Academy just happens to be my favorite, free way to do it.

Kids lose more progress in math than in reading over the summer, so it’s even more important.

Harvard’s Graduate School of Education shares these four other opportunities to reinforce math skills:

  • Highlight math in everyday activities: have kids count change when you’re shopping, have them calculate statistics at sporting events, or have them help in the kitchen measuring ingredients.
  • Read short math stories together: Studies have shown that reading math-focused stories to children, such as Bedtime Math books or the Family Math series, can help boost math scores in school.
  • Play math games: There are plenty of board games that involve math. Have kids do the counting.
  • Find other small ways to practice math at home: There are a variety of tactics here, but the important part is frequency. Try to do something every day.

Model learning and thinking for your kids

While kids are in school, they have teachers modeling thinking and learning all day. From read-alouds, to teacher talk, students hear how adults think. During the summer, try modeling thinking for your children.

It can be as easy as talking about a book you’re reading, or a problem at work. This doesn’t have to be complicated, but it can be beneficial.

Plan educational trips

If you’re traveling this summer, adding a stop at a historic landmark or museum can help keep your child’s mind active when they’re not in school. Check into programs at a hands-on museum like Liberty Science Center, or just visit for the day!

Other trips to historical sites and landmarks can help students understand events better. Take a trip to Ellis Island, or any number of the historic places around New Jersey to help kids understand the history around them.

Internships

You might have gotten this far and thought, this would be great if my child was still in elementary or middle school, but what am I supposed to do with a high schooler?

Well then, internships might be the way to go. You probably already know they’ll help with college entrance and career selection, plus help your teenager understand what they want to study.

Beyond that, working in an actual workplace can help them build context for what they learn in school, teach them organization skills, teach them interpersonal skills and otherwise help them contextualize what they learn and do on an everyday basis. Try searching for internships locally or talk to people you know who might offer them.

And hey, remember that it’s summer, and kids need to be kids. Keep things new, exciting and fun. Most importantly, have a safe and fun summer before school starts back up next fall.

Got any extra tips? Let us know in the comments below!

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Michael Alderman

Marketing and Communications Specialist at KIPP New Jersey
Michael is the marketing and communications specialist at KIPP New Jersey. You can contact Michael on Twitter @malderman_.

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  • Hi folks, if you have any other ways you keep kids learning over breaks, summer or otherwise, let us all know in the comments section here!