School’s out, but that doesn’t mean your kids should stop learning. Researchers have found that kids can lose one to two months of reading and math skills over the summer.
“All young people experience loss of math and reading skills when they do not have opportunities to apply or build these skills,” said Nazaneen Khalilnaji-Otto, the Campaign Director for Summer Matters. “Over 100 years of research has shown that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer.”
This phenomenon, called summer learning loss, impacts low-income students the most, and, as students progress to higher grade levels, the achievement gap widens. Summer learning loss is responsible for between 50 and 66 percent of this gap. “As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college,” Otto said.
Of course, students should be able to take a break from school, but there are some easy ways that parents can remedy summer learning loss without ruining their kids’ suntime funtime.
Books are helpful for almost everything, from entertaining your child to teaching your child about activism. Lifehacker previously wrote about an infographic that tells you how long it takes kids to read popular children’s books. If your child doesn’t like reading, there are a few methods to encourage them to without making them hate books (or you could turn their closet into a reading loft).
As for getting books, libraries are helpful and often have summer reading programs that reward children and teens for reading. Some also have book clubs and events that also teach your children about reading. Or, you can organize book swaps with other parents. There are also subscription services for books like Epic!
, a subscription service that lets children access over 20,000 books for under $5 a month.
Make Use of Free Events and Programs
Summer Matters recommends visiting local resources like parks, museums, libraries, and recreation centers. Some museums are free to children, and many local libraries have museum passes that you can check out.
Local non-profits, like the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA, also offer cheap or free camps during the summer. If none are available, you might also be able to serve your community by having your child volunteer (if they’re old enough).
In addition to losing math and reading skills, many children gain weight unhealthily during the summer months. Summer Matters recommends limiting screen time and doing something engaging like having a scavenger hunt or going to the pool.
Exploring different parks and landmarks will also encourage your kid to be more active. Geocaching, where you can find hidden treasure other strangers have hidden, is another alternative if you don’t want to set up a scavenger hunt. Plus, it might kids improve their navigation skills.
Ask a Teacher
Teachers don’t stop helping your kids learn once school ends. You can ask teachers for additional activities and reading lists that kids can work on over the summer. Scholastic also has recommended reading lists for kids of all ages. Your kid’s teacher might be helpful in recommending online programs that your kid could use in the summer as well.
For instance, there’s a free online summer math challenge for kids in second through ninth grade. For younger kids, Pinterest has tons of suggestions for math games to play. You can even set up a math camp at home.
This article, by Lily Lou, originally appeared on the Lifehacker Blog.