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Preserving Academic Gains During the Summer Months

Updated: May 4, 2021

We’ve all heard the term summer brain drain. Also called the summer slide, it refers to the dreaded loss in academic gains as children move away from the structure of the academic year to the carefree summer months. Depending on the study, it is estimated that children experience the equivalent of 1 – 3 months of decline in reading and math proficiency each summer, losses that need to be remediated at the beginning of each school year. In a year that has been especially challenging for students and educators alike, strategies are needed to strike preemptively and prevent erosion of already fragile Covid-era academic gains. But where does one start, especially with limited resources, including time? Try sending a summer academic survival kit home with your students at the end of the school year with the following ideas:


Literacy is the foundation on which intellectual growth is built. However, in the digital age in which we live, amusing internet videos receive our attention and reading seems to have taken a back seat. Make reading and building one’s vocabulary a fun and engaging endeavor for children each day:

  • Learn a new word every day.

  • Set aside time to read together, either as a parent reading to your child or each reading your own books.

  • Play word games like Scrabble (traditional board game or digital).

  • Encourage journaling to create memories of the summer.

  • Create opportunities for your children to read out loud and gain confidence doing so: Read a recipe as you are cooking together or read instructions for assembling a new piece of equipment.


Keep math skills sharp by integrating it into everyday activities:

  • Calculate the expected amount of the bill at the store.

  • Calculate the change you should receive after paying at the grocery store.

  • Calculate the number of an item that can be purchased at a particular price with a given budget.

  • Figure out how much to save each day or week to have a certain amount saved by the end of the summer for a special treat such as a new toy, musical instrument, or special art supplies.

  • Before a trip, calculate how far the destination is from the starting point and how long it will take to get there based on traveling at a certain speed.

  • Set a goal to learn a new skill; keep a log of the amount of time spent learning and practicing alongside records of improvements in the skill.


Encourage a love of exploration, learning and curiosity by picking a country or continent to learn more about:

  • Where is it located? (neighboring countries, directional location)

  • What are the languages?

  • How do you greet and say goodbye to people in some of those languages?

  • How far away are those countries and how long will a flight to get there take?

  • What are the surrounding oceans?

  • What are some of the interesting historical landmarks and what are the stories behind them?

  • Do a virtual tour of the country and these landmarks.

Who knows? Families just might end up with a future vacation spot because of all this research!

Summer Camp for Inspiration

Not sure what will spark your child’s imagination and interest? Try weeklong virtual or in-person summer camps to provide diverse experiences and help your child find his or her passion: Art, music & science are popular options.

Do you have additional tips? We would love to hear from you! Share your ideas in the comments below!

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