School’s almost out, and the summer holidays are just around the corner. Already (I hear you scream). Yes….sorry!

Your child is probably looking forward to the weeks of freedom from learning (and homework!). It’s as if the lockdowns didn’t even happen this year. We all need a break and some fun, but summer learning loss in children is a reality!

What is Summer Learning Loss?

Kid using tablet

Summer learning loss, also known as the ‘summer slide’ or the ‘summer setback’, is a phenomenon that all students are at risk of during the six-week summer holidays. It’s basically when children lose (forget) what they have learnt during the academic year. This is due to a lack of practice (or engagement) with any sort of learning materials.

How Does Homework Help with Summer Learning Loss?

There is a debate around whether giving children summer homework is the best way to reduce summer learning loss. But there are several proven benefits to homework in helping students to retain the skills they’ve learnt. Homework refreshes children’s memory on topics they would otherwise forget, so it is an effective way to combat (or at least reduce) summer learning loss.

Is Homework The Only Solution to Summer Learning Loss?

High angle view of cute multiethnic kids in sunglasses reading books while sitting on grass and

As mentioned earlier, homework isn’t the only solution for combating summer learning loss. As a parent, you can have an end-of-year conversation with your child’s teacher to learn about their areas of weakness to get a sense of the areas your child is struggling in. Hiring a private tutor for your child over the summer can be useful in keeping your child up to date.

Some parents disagree with the idea of their children being set summer homework, as they consider it an unproductive way of keeping their children busy; and find it quite intrusive to family holidays etc. Other parents see homework as a bone of contention with their children. Their children don’t want to spend their holidays being nagged about finishing off schoolwork. Some parents also get frustrated with the inappropriate ‘projects’ that their children are given, which they cannot do independently.

Should Students Study in the Summer?

While homework is recommended over the summer, reading is another activity that students stand to gain from during their break. The challenge, however, lies in getting a reluctant reader to actually read!

If you want your child to read during the summer holidays and some guidance on the best books for your child, you can use a reading list to get a mixture of genres and authors. 

You can create a reward chart or agree a prize at the end of summer if your child has read an agreed number of books. Before the start of the holiday, you and your child should create an A4 piece of paper where they list books (including comics or graphic novels) they want to read over the break. Doing this in advance is a great way to build your child’s interest in reading. Giving them a choice about the books they read will also give them greater control and responsibility for their learning. 

So, yes, students can do homework over the summer as a way of practising what they’ve learnt during the academic year, but reading is also highly encouraged.

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