Ten Ways to Keep Students Learning Over Summer

Mar 17, 2024
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When summer is on its way, students are eagerly awaiting long days of nice weather, relaxed schedules, and time spent with friends instead of schoolwork. And, while everyone can appreciate a good lazy day, the academic consequences of an entire summer off are not something to take lightly. 

A research study by the American Educational Research Journal found that over the summer months, students in grades 1-8 lost between 17-34 percent of their learning acquired throughout the school year. That being said, students learning over summer break, at least in some capacity, becomes pivotal as they grow in their education.

Keep your students learning all summer long with these 10 tips:

1. Include Parents in Students Learning over Summer Break

Parental involvement can be the key to keeping students learning over summer break when they’re not in school. Reach out to parents before the school year ends, and share ways to keep their children engaged throughout the summer.

For example, teachers can encourage parents to read with or read to their children. This is an excellent opportunity for adults to model proper fluency, including phrasing and expression. After reading, they should spend a few minutes talking about what they just read with their child, using questions such as:

  • What were the characters and setting?
  • What was the conflict?
  • Why do you think this happened?
  • What was the main idea of the story?

2. Send Students Off with Resources

To jumpstart students learning over summer break, consider printing off resources and sending them home in a take-home packet. This is a great way to make sure that all students have access to extra practice over the summer, even if they don’t have access to a computer. 

Include resources that help students build new vocabulary, reinforce phonics, and test their comprehension and fluency. We curated these great summer resources to get you started.

3. Hold a Contest

Create a friendly academic competition between your students with incentives to come at the beginning of the new school year. See how some schools used contests to drive student engagement with Study Island and start brainstorming your own competition.

Don’t forget to check out our Study Island Contest Toolkit and Exact Path Contest Toolkit.

4. Keep Them Reading

One of the most effective ways to avoid summer learning loss is to read regularly. As summer is a time for discovery and adventure, students can cultivate new interests by checking out various titles in their community’s public or virtual library. 

If your school offers access to a shared virtual library, consider creating custom book collections to share with your students before the school year ends. Filter books by genre, reading level, topic and more to share books personalized to each student’s needs.

Teachers can also send students off with summer reading lists and resources for their community libraries, and encourage them to download their library’s mobile app, if available.

Don’t miss the chance to share these fun, printable bookmarks, perfect for keeping track of summer reading.

5. Break from Tradition

Promote nontraditional learning over summer break with a list of documentaries, historical films, podcasts, and audiobooks that students can enjoy over the break. 

Download and share this 30-Day Summer Learning Challenge for some fun ideas.

6. Inspire the DIY Spirit

Summer is the perfect time for students to unleash their creativity and take ownership of their learning through do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. Help them become self-directed learners with our how-to guide for personalized learning, and encourage them to explore their interests, pursue their passions, and unleash their inner innovator with a variety of hands-on activities. Here are some ideas to inspire the DIY spirit:

  • Project-Based Learning: Encourage students to embark on project-based learning adventures tailored to their interests. Whether it's building a model rocket, creating a stop-motion animation, designing a website, or crafting handmade jewelry, project-based learning fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.
  • STEM Exploration: Engage students in hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activities that promote inquiry, exploration, and discovery. Encourage them to conduct science experiments, design engineering prototypes, explore coding and robotics, or investigate environmental sustainability initiatives.
  • DIY Learning Resources: Provide students with access to DIY learning resources, including online tutorials, instructional videos, and project guides. Platforms like YouTube, Instructables, and Khan Academy offer a wealth of educational content covering a wide range of DIY topics and skills. Empower students to become self-directed learners as they explore and learn at their own pace.

7. Map Out Potential Summer Field Trips

Highlight learning institutions that students can visit on their own time—the local library, a museum, or a nature center. The options for hands-on learning are endless. 

For students who may have trouble with access to in-person opportunities, try creating a virtual field trip instead. Encourage students to explore virtual museums, participate in online workshops, and engage with interactive learning platforms to discover new passions and expand their knowledge horizons.

8. Suggest Volunteer Opportunities

Many businesses and nonprofit organizations welcome support from young adults in their communities. Whether it's assisting at a food bank, participating in a community clean-up initiative, or volunteering at a local animal shelter, there are countless ways for students to contribute to the well-being of their communities.

Offer a community service credit , or create a summer project focused on giving back to encourage students to embrace the spirit of service and make a meaningful difference in the world around them, both during the summer months and beyond.

9. Encourage Extracurriculars

Camps are a great option for all types of learners. Many focus on specific interests and the development of important social, emotional, and cognitive skills.

Best of all, they create lasting memories.

Summer is also a great time to discover new activities, try new things, and develop new hobbies.

10. Encourage Boredom

These days, we often feel like we need to fill up every moment of every day with some activity or plan so that we can make sure we are being productive and efficient with our time.

But every now and again, a little boredom, or unspecified downtime, can actually boost creativity and help develop imagination and self-awareness. 

Have your students write out a short list of things that interest them or activities they enjoy that they can turn to when they have nothing to do, and encourage them to try to see the dull moments as opportunities.

Interested in more tips to build out summer learning success? Share these tips with parents to keep their kids learning during the summer. 

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