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Show and Tell
Summer Learning

When school is dismissed for the summer, many children are thinking of long days of relaxation and fun. Parents, on the other hand, may be thinking of how to prevent summer “learning loss.” It is possible to merge the two plans: Parents can apply a summer routine to preserve and enhance the learning of the school year, and children can have summer vacation fun, too. Research shows that children need learning opportunities year-round, even during the summer, in order to succeed in school. 

Parents may not realize it, but some children will have lost 1 to 3 months’ worth of learning by the time they return to school in the fall. According to research, the instruction, peer interactions, and the exposure to learning materials in school make literacy development and growth possible. When school routines are absent, children lose reading, math, and spelling skills, since they are not practicing these skills. Creating more summertime learning opportunities may prevent learning losses or “brain drain.”

Also, during the summer, school children are at greater risk of weight gain. It is important for parents to identify learning-rich, healthy, and fun activities for children while they’re at home, on vacation, or at camp, as such activities may preserve learning skills as well as a healthy weight.

Tips To Foster Summer Learning
To reduce summer learning loss, parents can reinforce what their children learned during the past school year, as well as prepare them for the next one, by setting simple summer learning goals depending on the child’s age and interest. Below are some fun and interactive activities parents can do with their children to make summer healthy and fun:  

  • Read during the summer: (PDF 1.05MB) Make a wide variety of books available to kids that match their reading level and interest. To keep it interactive, ask questions about the story or ask your child to summarize the story or retell it to you. This simple process will boost your child’s reading comprehension and vocabulary.
  • Visit the library: Together, browse through books that interest your child at your local library. It’s a great, free resource, and during the summer, many public libraries have fun reading programs and activities for children. 
  • Practice writing letters: In the early years of schooling, it’s important that children learn and practice writing (or scribbling). Support your child by treating his or her scribbles like real words, provide daily chances for practice, and constantly offer praise. At this time, it’s all about building your child’s love of learning; it’s not important for his or her letters to be perfect.
  • Connect math with daily life: Math is everywhere. Use your daily activities to showcase numbers and shapes; for example, with a ruler or a measuring tape, measure items big and small around the house or yard. Track daily temperatures. Point out the numbers while taking elevator rides or request a floor number—let your child push the button when he or she correctly identifies that number. Help your child begin to see different shapes—while taking a walk, riding in the car, or spending time at home.
  • Cook with your children: Cooking together will provide another opportunity to exercise math skills. Have your child count (the number of eggs), measure (a half-cup of flour), and track cooking time (30 minutes to cook). For your older children, a pizza is a perfect way to illustrate fractions (a half, a quarter). Have fun with baking desserts and making pancakes or sandwiches.
  • Know your community: Take time to teach your child about the importance of giving back or contributing to the well-being of others by modeling compassion and kindness. Support your child in collecting clothing, toys, or other supplies for your local family or animal shelter.
  • Participate in local community activities: Take educational trips to your local science, art, or history museum; zoo; park; or nature center.
  • Explore and stay active: Explore the outdoors; have fun together at the park—running, swinging, climbing, riding bikes, jumping rope, pulling a wagon, or going for walk and hiking. Introduce new and fun games such as hopscotch, jacks, and Simon Says.
  • Keep a healthy routine: During the summer, continue with your daily routine, set limits, and maintain healthy habits such as a regular bedtime, nutritious meals, and physical activity. Remember, structure gives children a sense of security, safety, and emotional stability. 

It is important for parents to ensure that their children continue building healthy minds and bodies during the summer. Take advantage of the long days, and prepare them for the fall with learning-rich activities. Have a great summer!

Family Activity: It’s Growing!

Educator Activity: Summer Learning: Out-of-School Time Activities

Quiz for Parents: Summer Brain Drain


The U.S. Department of Education
The department provides a list of resources for parents to use to build their children’s language skills.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, that provides parents with helpful information and tools to foster environments that support healthy food and exercise choices.

National Institutes of Health
A National Institutes of Health News Release provides new facts on the importance of building early basic math skills in young children.
“Volunteering: How Can I Make A Difference?” provides simple ideas on how to include young children in volunteering during the holiday season.

Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA) Head Start
The Scholastic website provides free and printable reading, writing, science, and math materials that parents can use to continue their child’s learning during summer break.

The National Summer Learning Association provides parents and educators with resource tools to promote summer learning:

Please note—to view documents in PDF format, you must have Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader software. If you do not already have this software installed on your computer, please download it from Adobe's website.

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Updated on 3/22/2014