Ahhhhh..... the lazy days of summer. After a grueling school year, students finally get to relax. Even parents
breathe a sigh of relief to get a break from homework and the battles that sometimes accompany it.
Breaks are hard-earned and necessary for rest and rejuvenation. However, we need to also make sure that our kids
do not lose their skills over the summer. There is a scientifically proven phenomenon known by several names,
including "Summer Slide," "Summer Learning Loss," and "Brain Drain."
Over 100 years of research in this area finds students score lower on standardized tests at the end of the summer
than at the beginning unless their summer is enriched with educational opportunities.
Summer reading loss is one example, and, unfortunately, it is cumulative. Children don't typically make up for lost
skills in the fall, as their classmates move on. By the end of 6th grade, children who have not participated in educational enrichment opportunities over the summer were as much as two and a half years behind their peers who were challenged academically over the summer.
According to a study by John Hopkins University, 2.6 months of math computation skills are lost over summer,
regardless of socio-economic status. This is because all students are less likely to practice math outside of the
It can take 2 months for a student’s brain development to get back on track once school starts.
On average, teachers spend the first 6 weeks of school reviewing old concepts and skills before moving on to make
up for summer learning loss.
However, the great news is that only 2-3 hours per week are needed to prevent any summer learning loss! Just a
few hours a week can help keep the brain sharp and ready to hit the ground running when school starts. Also, 2
months of subject-focused learning is all it takes to improve skills.
There used to be a stigma attached to summer learning programs like summer school. Generally, only students
needing remediation would participate. The trend is shifting now, as more students realize that summer is a great
time to maintain an educational routine, catch up at a comfortable pace, and get ahead with introduction to
Summer break is a great opportunity for students to fill in learning gaps, make sense of material learned during
the school year, and improve on skills such as reading comprehension and math. It’s the perfect time to get extra
help without having to balance the workload and busyness of the regular school year. Students can make impressive
academic gains and reduce school year stress.
You can prevent summer slide from happening in your child. I will share some suggestions in my next posts. If you
need help keeping your child's skills fresh or would like me to preview material that will be introduced in the fall,
please contact me: https://www.peaktutoring.org/contact/ The summer is not over yet, and I would be happy to
work with your him or her.
Does your child struggle with any of the following?
Getting out the door on time
Leaving things behind that needed to go to school
Bringing home all necessary materials to complete homework
Remembering what was assigned for homework
Turning in completed work on time
Waiting until the last minute to work on long-term assignments
Finding things in their messy bedroom, backpack, or locker
Some kids are just naturally less organized than others. There are tools that can help, though. Here
are some of my favorite tips and tools for helping kids get (and stay) organized.
Have a caddy of supplies like pencils, pencil sharpener, stapler, highlighter, and post its at this homework
station, along with graph paper and lined paper. This way, your child doesn’t have to get up and go looking for them. The one below is from the dollar store and is described here:
Have sports gear, music instrument). Kids could put backpacks on the backs of their kitchen chairs,
the garage door, or on a hook. Just have it be consistent, so they can always know where their
things are for packing up and grabbing on the run.
Open storage locker:
Over the door hooks:
Backpack station ideas:
Have one spot in your home to set papers for parents to see like permission forms. This could be
in a special inbox like this one,
or even just a spot on the fridge:
If your child struggles to get out the door on time, you could try using a timer (play “beat the timer”
for different tasks) or an app like the “Happy Kids Timer”
One last tip is to make a checklist for the following day before goign to bed.
Find a folder system that works. Some schools or teachers require a particular system. If not, figure out
what works best for your child.
Perhaps one, thin pocket folder is all your child needs. Label one pocket for homework to be
done and the other for finished homework to turn in. Poly folders hold up better than cardboard.
If the child turns in different papers in different classrooms throughout the day, perhaps an
accordion file would work better than the pocket folder. They can set up one tab per subject.
All work to be done/graded goes in that subject’s pocket. This particular one (http://a.co/iTnVNjF)
zips shut. Others have bungies. These can be found online or in office stores.
For students who need to keep their graded work in order to study graded work and pass notebook
checks, binders would be a good option. Some teachers require a different binder for each subject.
If not, I recommend something like these Case-It binders (http://a.co/7rnsqnY) which have both a
binder and accordion file built in, because, let’s face it, not all kids will take the time to hole punch
everything and clip it in to the correct spots within the 3-rings. With one binder for all subjects,
materials won’t be left at school, since it all comes home together. Make sure your child periodically
purges unneeded papers, so it doesn’t get too overwhelming or heavy.
If different folders or binders are needed for each class, I recommend color-coding all materials
for that class. For example, get a blue binder, blue pocket folder, and blue text book cover for all
math items. When it’s time for math class or to pack up math homework for the night, your child
can pull all of the blue things out of his or her locker.
Often, teachers post homework on a website, so students rely on looking it up when they get home. However, this can take up homework time, they may have forgotten things they need at school while packing up, the teacher may forget to update the website, or there could be a technical problem that prevents you from viewing the homework site. For this reason, I recommend kids use a planner. If the teacher writes the homework on the board before class, I recommend filling the planner out at the beginning of class, as things can get rushed at the end. A traditional paper planner is very effective, as long as the child remembers to write in it and bring it home. You could use an incentive for each day the child brings it home all filled out. You can also ask the teacher to sign the planner, if you need verification that what your child wrote down (“no hmework”) is accurate. It should be the student’s responsibility to ask the teacher for the signature. You could use an incentive or consequence to hold them accountable, like 5 minutes of screen time per subject that is filled out or 5 minutes earlier to bed for each one not filled out.
A digital planner is great if your child has a phone, iPad, or other device that goes to school daily.
There are many planner and checklist apps. I personally like Google calendar and a program
called Asana to make daily checklists:
Asana is both a website and an app that syncs across all your devices. What I like about it is you
can set up columns by days of the week. Add tasks that can be removed when they are
finished, dragged to rearrange their order, or dragged to a different day if they are not finished
by the end of the day. I like that you don’t have to re-write (in a paper planner) or re-enter the
task on a new day. Once a day’s tasks are all removed or moved to a future day, you can drag
the entire column for that now-empty day to the far right of all the daily columns. Now it’s ready
for the following week. This way, your first column will always be the current day.
If your child uses a smartphone or other mobile device, reminders can be set for things like
turning in a late homework assignment, buying project supplies during the weekend, or bringing
home a field trip form. There are lots of apps to choose from. Here are some for Android:
and iPhone: https://www.androidauthority.com/best-reminder-apps-for-android-654628/
I hope some of these resources and ideas prove helpful for your child. If your student struggles with
executive functioning skills and you would like me to work with him or her personally, please go to
www.peaktutoring.org to learn more and contact me. I'd be happy to help him or her get organized
and become more successful in school.
In my family, these last few weeks of summer vacation have been packed full with back-to-back family
reunions in New Hampshire and Colorado. School is starting back up soon, and already started on
August 1 at a few schools here in Colorado Springs. However, I promised in my last blog post to share
some of my favorite tools for use at home to avoid summer learning loss. So, if you have a few weeks
left, you might want to give these a try. Of course, these suggestions could also be used throughout
the school year or next summer. Here you go:
My favorite tools for HANDWRITING:
This handwriting worksheet generator is completely customizable. You enter the text you’d like your
child to trace or copy on the line below. You can chose printing or cursive, font size, etc. You can enter
up to 2,000 characters. Sometimes I will have my daughter dictate a story to me, as it’s more fun for her
to work on writing text about a subject she enjoys.
Here are some helpful tips for correcting improper pencil grip.
There are several types of tools to correct pencil grip. Some are more comfortable than others. If you
don’t want to take a chance on an online purchase, you could visit your local teacher’s store with your
child and have them try several before buying their favorite. This is a good tool to help kids learn to
hold pencils in the correct position:
These don’t really help kids write, but I thought I’d mention my favorite brand of wooden pencil. These
write smoothly and erase more thoroughly than other pencils. They don’t leave a smudgy mess after
erasing. They are more expensive, but I have found that you do “get what you pay for” with pencils.
Last year, Costco also sold them in bulk.
My favorite tools for MATH:
Students often lack a math textbook at home over the summer. This is a fantastic
math worksheet generator for most any topic in math, K-12. Another great aspect is that each
worksheet prints with an answer key, so parents can check their child’s work.
My favorite flash cards are made by Trend Enterprises, because they have only one problem on each
card (the problem is unsolved on the front, and shown with the solution on the back). The reason I prefer
this style is because you can sort the cards into piles (“done” and “keep practicing”) based on if the
child really knows the math fact quickly or if he or she has to stop and calculate the answer. You can
return one pile to the box and keep the other pile in a ziplock bag, so they only have to work on the
“keep practicing” ones until they, too, are retired to the box. Kids can even use these by themselves
(in a car, for instance). They can quiz themselves and check their answers by flipping the cards over.
This link is for 4 sets in one bundle (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). However, there
are also sets of single operations. Another option that is more expensive is the version of the same
brand of cards that includes the words “all facts.” The difference with “all facts” is that two cards are
included for each problem, because they can be presented in 2 different orders. For instance, 2+5 would
be on one card and 5+2 would be on another card. Here is one example. They have sold a bundle of
all four operations in the past, but I’m only seeing individual sets on Amazon right now.
My favorite tools for GEOGRAPHY:
I love these printable maps of every continent. You can choose outline maps (political) or maps that
include the landforms like mountain ranges and rivers (physical). Print and have your child fill out the
states, countries, capitals, or landforms.
Writing long names on small areas of a map can be difficult, so you can also write numbers on each
state/country. Have your child write the names corresponding to each number on a separate sheet of
paper. Here is an example of a numbered map, already done for you, with answer key.
Stack the States a fun app that helps kids learn the shapes of states (but not their positions on a map).
In the game, they try to rotate and drop the irregularly shaped states into a stack that won’t topple over.
Enjoy Learning U.S. Map Puzzle is an app to help kids learn the shapes and positions of each state.
There is a timer running as they drag and drop each state onto the outline map. They can try to beat
their previous time each time they play.
World Map Quiz is a fantastic app where you are given a blank outline map of a continent, like Africa.
If it says “Find Egypt,” you touch the country on the map and see if you got it correct. It keeps score and
will cycle back through some of your missed answers, to see if you can get it correct the next time. It
can also quiz you on capitals, landforms, flags, etc.
World Quiz by Michal Majewski is for Apple devices only. It shows one country on a continent in blue.
You choose the correct name for that blue country from a list of four options. You can also choose for
the map to highlight 4 different countries and provide one name. You select the highlighted country that
corresponds to that name. There are also capital and flag quizzes.
All of the tools mentioned above are only for a few subjects. Please share in the comments below if
you have found any tools, websites, or apps your kids enjoy and that might help other parents help
prevent summer learning loss. I hope you have a great rest of your summer!
If you would like assistance preventing summer "brain drain" in your child, please visit
www.peaktutoring.org to learn more about my services and contact me.