Research tells us that the “summer slide” is real. There is a genuine loss of learning over the long summer break which means that students have often lost ground when they return to school in the new year. This can be particularly problematic for students who are transitioning to a new school or a new section of the school – such as moving from Year 6 to Year 7 – where they have to cope with an unfamiliar environment and teachers who do not know them, as well as more complex material.
All students lose some skills in Maths. The loss of vital literacy skills is also common, particularly where students do not prioritise reading as a summer activity. It’s common sense, really: if you don’t practise a skill, you lose it. When kids used to read all summer, it was much less evident. Now that they spend their time on their phone rather than reading, the problem is becoming more obvious.
“Summer slide” creates bigger gaps for younger students because their foundational skills are less secure and so learning needs more deliberate consolidation. There is clear evidence that the impact of the long break is mitigated by cognitive engagement through targeted learning programs and activities. That’s why Cluey, like many other educational institutions, offers summer intensives.
Summer tutoring programs provide many benefits and opportunities. For senior students facing high stakes assessments, some structured revision as well as working on new material over the summer can maintain that all-important momentum and focus. They can ask questions and receive the help they need while they study rather than having to wait until they’re back at school. For aspiring students, the summer offers the opportunity to work ahead of their colleagues and improve their chances of being accepted into extension classes and subjects. For students who have felt overwhelmed by the speed of the year, summer tutoring programs are a chance to work systematically and at a more leisurely pace through some of the concepts they might have missed. For all students, spending a bit of time during the long holidays to get ahead will make the following year so much easier.
The research also indicates that rather than replicating the classroom experience – from which kids really need a break – individualised tutoring programs like those with Cluey are associated with greater effectiveness. They also fit in better to the slower pace of the summer holidays and complement rather than take time away from other important components of holidays: trips to the beach or the local swimming pool, running around and getting lots of sleep.
We talk a lot about the importance of establishing balance in children’s lives. Term time often feels too crazy and pressured and then the holidays – and particularly the summer holidays – too slow and boring. Children tend to retreat into their digital worlds; every parent is familiar with the battles over screen time. According to Dr Joanne Orlando, international expert on family and digital lifestyles, parents agonising about each minute their children spend on a screen is wasted time. It is more important for parents to emphasise the use of technology for educational purposes, as a way to develop important skills and stimulate creativity. Setting aside some of your children’s holiday screen time for learning is a good way to add a bit of balance to their lives.
So here are my top 4 tips on how to prevent summer slide:
- Summer tutoring programs in Maths and English will halt the slide and prepare your child for next year.
- Choose a tutoring company that is flexible, convenient and works to your schedule, leaving time for holiday fun.
- Let your child use technology but emphasise that it can be for learning as well as play.
- Prioritise reading as a holiday activity.