Each summer, children forget much of what they have learnt at school during the previous year. Countless research studies have shown the negative effects of "summer learning loss" on everything from long-term literacy levels to entrance to elite universities. In fact, John’s Hopkins University in the US now attributes two thirds of the achievement gap between students to this phenomenon. Here are my ten top tips on preventing summer learning loss with some ideas for work to be done quickly and easily, even on the beach.
1. Read, read, read. It was recently revealed that current under 30-year-olds read more than any generation before them. This means your child is probably already a page-turner, or a screen-scroller, or a kindle-clicker. If they are not, summer is a great time to start. Reading is immensely enjoyable, and will help them improve their spelling, literacy, and vocabulary skills.
2. Practice story-writing. This nurtures many of the above skills, and may appeal particularly to restless or creative children. If your son or daughter can’t sit still to finish a book, ask them to write their own ending. This will give their imagination a powerful outlet, while helping them develop the quality of their expression.
3. Integrate maths into your routine. Doing some times tables in the bath, or a Sudoku while taking a break from the heat can work wonders in the long run.
4. Play board games. Rainy afternoons in summer tend to be quite unstimulating for children. Create fun for the whole family by pulling out games like Monopoly, Cluedo, or Scrabble.
5. Take a trip. Educational trips to museums, historical sites, or nature parks provide great opportunities for your child to interact with the world around them, both physically and intellectually.
6. Speak another language. Bilingualism has numerous benefits for a young brain, so encourage your child to order a meal in the language of the country where you are holidaying.
7. Don’t fear the iPad. A recent Harvard study showed that online games involving space and time improve spatial reasoning.
8. Exercise. Sports activities tend to break up over the summer, but that doesn’t mean your child should remain inactive. Physical health promotes mental health and happiness, as well as raising energy levels.
9. Keep up regular meal times. All studies on summer learning loss insist on the key role of healthy, regular eating in keeping the effect at bay.
10. Relax! Above all, summer is a time for young minds to rest and recharge from the pressures of the school year. While your child keeps active, mentally and physically, they should also remember to have fun.
Margaret Gray is from Simply Learning Tuition, a leading independent education company providing introductions to private tutors.