Is there really a summer learning gap?

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 9.41.35 PMSummer is just around the corner and the debate about whether kids should take the summer off and have fun, or whether they should be enrolled in an academic enhancement or remedial program is at the forefront of Mom conversations everywhere.

“Shouldn’t my child have fun at camp this summer?”

“My child deserves a break from routine and structure.”

“My child struggled all throughout the year… But I feel guilty sending him/her to do school work in the summer…”

Did you know that kids typically fall 2-3 months behind in reading and math levels over the summer?

The proof is in the testing—on standardized tests, students scored lower results at the end of the summer than during the school year. Furthermore, researchers have determined that without the integration of some sort of summer academic program, by grade 9, students will fall a whole academic year behind. AN ENTIRE YEAR BEHIND—the summer learning gap actually exists and must be considered when making plans for your child.

The first thing to do is determine whether your child has fallen behind this year or whether they are at par for their grade level.

If you feel that they are keeping up with the crowd, then here are some ways that you can integrate academics into your summer routine:

Elementary kids outside

  • Summer book club—Kids generally want to find ways to stay in touch with their friends from school during the summer—what better way than to arrange a book club? Parents can take turns helping to facilitate the book club (perhaps they should meet once per week?) and spend quality time with their kids in the process.
  • Make a family newsletter—How cool would it be for your child to become a published author? Have each child contribute one or two articles to a family newsletter: they could be about their favorite things, what they’ve learned this year, or some of their greatest accomplishments. Then, as a family, work together to type the articles into a newsletter template (Microsoft Word has some great ones!) and send the finished product out to family and friends! Make sure to add lots of pictures, jokes, quotes, etc.!
  • Chronicle trips and activities—Help your child keep a log of all of the trips and activities that he/she participates in during the summer. While attending various outings and while on vacation, encourage him/her to take lots of pictures. Then, print out the pictures and stick one on each page of a journal. Ask your child to write a paragraph to help explain each picture!

If your child has really struggled this year, then make sure to get help–don’t just wait for the problem to ‘go away’. The first step is to talk to your child’s teacher to identify the areas that need improvement; it is important to ensure that the information is specific (“he has a problem with math” versus “he has difficulty with the steps in problem-solving and fractions”).

In which areas is your child struggling—concepts, terms, reading, organization, time management, study skills? Once you pinpoint this, you will better be able to look for the right program/support service.

And don’t forget, if you are not sure how to proceed, feel free to contact me for guidance and support.

Take care and have a great summer!


  • Didi Marks
    Posted at 07:58h, 26 May Reply

    I agree with you wholeheartedly!
    I was a private tutor, education coach, for 30 years and observed the positive results from summer tutoring. Children who lagged in reading skills or math skills were able to gain at least one year in achievement. The associated improvement in their self confidence enabled them to continue successfully during the academic year. My greatest fun was with the little ones who were having trouble reading…magic occurred in 10 weeks of private lessons!

    • Robin
      Posted at 20:17h, 28 May Reply

      Thanks for sharing your experiences Didi!

  • Jennifer Benedik
    Posted at 21:52h, 27 May Reply

    Great article Robin! I have seen this throughout my career, and continue to educate families about this topic every summer.

  • Robin
    Posted at 20:18h, 28 May Reply

    Thanks Jennifer!

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