Every student needs a vacation! But the long summer break is a great opportunity for kids to catch up on unfinished learning or get a head start on next year.
While schools have been back to in-person instruction for most, if not all, of the 2021-22 school year, the struggle for students to recover from the interruptions caused by the pandemic is ongoing. Often referred to as “COVID learning loss” or “unfinished learning,” the fragmented nature of educational instruction over the past two years has left many students months, if not a full school year, behind in terms of their grade-level expectations.
According to a recent McKinsey & Company study, students experienced on average a five-month delay in math and a four-month delay in reading at the end of the 2020-21 school year. Academic lags like these can result in potentially major learning setbacks in the future for students heading to college.
At Tutor Doctor, we have worked with many students who are not retaining their learning gains as a direct result of experiencing long periods of time without direct academic engagement. With the summer break just a few weeks away, students face the potential for even greater learning losses.
The “Summer Slide” is Real
Time away from school during the summer definitely impacts student performance. In fact, the “summer slide” is quite common among students at all grade levels. Research has shown that students can lose up to two months of academic gains in reading and mathematics over the summer break. Combined with unfinished learning due to the pandemic, there is real cause for concern.
As parents, you can help your kids avoid the “summer slide” – as well as catch up on missed learning and even get ahead on next year’s material. These four “hacks” will keep your kids minds active and engaged during the summer break, and set them up for success when they head back to school in the fall.
1. Make Learning a Family Affair
Summer is the perfect time to plan fun learning experiences that the entire family can enjoy. Exploring nature with your kids is one of the easiest ways to incorporate learning into everyday activities, whether it’s visiting a lavender farm, discovering a sculpture park, or taking a long hike on one of the area’s countless trails. Family outings to places like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Gettysburg, Ellis Island, Sleepy Hollow, and Liberty Science Center all offer opportunities to learn new things while having fun together.
2. Explore Summer Enrichment Programs
Summer learning doesn’t have to mean enrolling in a required summer school program. From math camps to reading clubs, there is an array of summer enrichment experiences designed to keep kids learning and growing. For high school students, summer classes are also a great way to get required elective courses out of the way. Advanced college prep students might want to consider taking an online math class to move up to a higher-level track.
Access to new federal funding means that Bergen County school districts may have more resources than usual for summer initiatives. And given the current situation, many are taking different approaches. We recommend contacting your student’s school to see if they have new in-person or online offerings.
3. Encourage Summer Reading
Literature in any form is beneficial, and reading keeps young minds engaged and provides academic support – even if the material isn’t strictly educational. Kids should read as much as possible during the summer months; at Tutor Doctor, we suggest aiming for a minimum of one to two books if they don’t have a specific assignment.
I’m also a firm believer that every student needs some sort of math summer work. Most schools will send kids home with a summer math packet which typically reviews what they learned during the school year. Making sure your child completes the work can go a long way towards helping him or her catch up on concepts they may have missed. Advanced students are likely to have a number of assignments. It’s important to help them spread the work out over the summer rather than waiting until the last minute.
4. Work with a Tutor
Personalized tutoring is the best way to recoup any learning loss. By identifying subject areas that the student is struggling with or specific learning gaps, tutors can focus on filling those gaps and revisiting difficult concepts or material that may have been unclear. Without the pressure of a regular school schedule, students can dedicate their time to practicing and refining their skills.
Private tutoring is also a great way for students to get a jump-start on a tough new class for next year. For kids who are not independent learners, tutoring provides consistency and helps them learn accountability. Unlike summer school programs, tutoring offers the flexibility to work around your family’s summer plans.
That said, I do NOT recommend tutoring for the entire summer. Students deserve to have time to unwind and chill once classes are over – going on vacation, relaxing at the beach, spending time at camp or hanging with friends. Then they can do some low-key tutoring about four to six weeks before school starts.
Recovering from learning loss doesn’t happen overnight. Although there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, recognizing the issue and providing students with tools and opportunities to regain lost ground will help minimize the impact of fragmented learning on their academic journey.
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Meet Jessica Bush
For Jessica, “making learning personal” is not just a slogan – it’s the foundation on which she has built Tutor Doctor North Jersey. For the past 10 years, her instinct for uncovering the unique needs and desires of students and their families – and her passion for helping them achieve their dreams – have been the hallmarks of her tutoring practice.
Jessica understands that learning is often about more than just mastering academics. Whether it’s test anxiety, executive function, or school avoidance, her expertise lies in helping families address even the most complex learning challenges holistically. Families can count on her not only to connect the right tutor with the right student, but to build a support team with a shared commitment to seeing each student succeed – in school and in life.
Connect with Jessica at (201) 492-1888 or visit www.TutorDoctor.com/Bergen-Rockland
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