Outside the Classroom

Stimulating Learning to Prevent Summer Slide

When I was a student, if you had asked me what “summer slide” meant, I would have assumed you were talking about the slides at the waterpark. I don’t remember having heard the term when I was in school, though if I had learned it, it’s very likely I simply forgot it during summer vacation.

Summer break is a time for students to recharge for the following school year, but a loss of academic skills is always a concern. Studies have shown that kids can lose two to three months of math and reading skills over the summer with regression being more pronounced among lower-income children. Yet, there are numerous ways of stimulating learning to prevent summer slide.

One comprehensive book on summer slide and its effects on low-income kids is Keeping the Faucet Flowing by Doris R. Entwisle, Karl L. Alexander, and Linda Steffel Olson. Based on the authors’ Baltimore School Study, this book seeks to account for seasonal learning and its effects on poor children. According to researchers, summer slide may even contribute to a widening disparity in the achievement gap, and recent studies have shown that summer learning loss increases with each grade, particularly in math.

Summer doesn’t have to be a period of regression for students. With a little creativity, there are numerous ways of stimulating learning to prevent summer slide.


Summer Reading is Fundamental

Research has shown that reading as few as six books during the summer may keep a struggling reader from regressing. As summer approaches, teachers and parents should highlight the importance of reading year-round. Having a prepared summer reading list that challenges kids to read a certain number of books during the summer is invaluable. The public library is a great resource for keeping students engaged in summer reading, and many libraries offer summer reading programs.

Recommend Summer Journaling

For older students, summer journaling is an excellent way of stimulating learning to prevent summer slide and even helps to develop creative writing skills. Encouraging kids to write fictional stories can improve their writing ability as well as creativity and imagination. It doesn’t matter what children write about; the important thing is doing it regularly as part of a summer routine.

Make Summer Learning a Family Event

Parents can keep children involved in summer learning by looking out for everyday learning opportunities. A trip to the county fair can be a chance to learn about various farm animals. Helping in the garden is a chance to learn about plant life and discover the joy of gardening. Planning and preparing a meal is another fun activity that teaches kids life skills while bringing the whole family together. Even playing board games and puzzles can keep the mind stimulated and open to learning during summer vacation.

Try New Summer Activities

Whether it’s a new hobby, subject, or activity, exposing students to new things keeps them motivated and helps to prevent summer learning loss. Furthermore, doing so can help kids get more interested in learning in general. Aside from reading or taking online summer courses, participating in sports and other physical activities is one of the best ways to keep a child’s mind fit and active.

Everyone Loves Field Trips

Taking kids to educational venues such as museums, zoos, and historical sites is an exciting way to keep students learning. Summer camps and clubs also offer great ways for kids to socialize in fun learning environments. For lower-income students, attending a summer camp is especially important in preventing summer learning loss. If you take a family vacation, bringing books along and limiting screen time can also help prevent a summer brain drain. If screen time is unavoidable, make sure to look for educational apps or games.

With careful preparation and planning, teachers and parents can overcome the challenges of seasonal learning and prevent the dreaded summer slide.


Almozara, L. (2017, June 16). Looking for ways to prevent summer learning loss? Where Learning Clicks. Retrieved from https://blog.edgenuity.com/prevent-summer-learning-loss/

Entwisle, D. R., Alexander, K. L., & Olson, L. S. (n.d.). Summer learning and home environment. American Federation of Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/fall-2001/keep-faucet-flowing

Grant, T. (2013, June 5). How to prevent summer brain drain: Tips from teachers. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/how-to-prevent-summer-brain-drain-tips-from-teachers/2013/06/04/32ca7de2-c14d-11e2-8bd8-2788030e6b44_story.html

Kuhfeld, M. (2018, July 16). Summer learning loss: What we know and what we’re learning. NWEA. Retrieved from https://www.nwea.org/blog/2018/summer-learning-loss-what-we-know-what-were-learning/

Lutz, A. (2018, April 17). How can parents prevent summer slide? Where Learning Clicks. Retrieved from https://blog.edgenuity.com/prevent-summer-slide/

Nova Education. (2017, June 22). How to minimize summer slide. NOVA. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/minimizing-summer-slide/

Scholastic Parents Stagg. (n.d.). Three ways to prevent summer slide. Scholastic Parents. Retrieved from https://www.scholastic.com/parents/books-and-reading/reading-resources/developing-reading-skills/three-ways-to-prevent-summer-slide.html

About the Author


Ryan Zaharako

Ryan is a former Marine who graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Radio/TV/Film with a focus on writing. In 2005, he became a copywriter in entertainment advertising in Hollywood, California before recently joining the marketing team at Edgenuity. Ryan is excited to be working in the rewarding world of education technology.