Daily practice can help prevent summer learning loss

Students can lose 25 to 30 percent of school year learning over the summer


ROANOKE CO., Va. – As students across the region celebrate summer and a break from the classroom, experts say it's important to keep them practicing the skills they learned in the last school year.

Experts say a summer break without any learning activities can put a child behind when it's time to head back to school in the fall. One study from Brookings Institute found kids in grades 2 through 9 can lose as much as 25 to 30 percent of the school year learning over the summer.

Chuck Lionberger, community relations specialist with Roanoke County Schools, says parents should read to their kids at least two to three times a week. If your child is old enough to read, have him or her take turns reading to you as well.

"It's all about practicing that fluency and helping students build their vocabulary," says Lionberger. "That makes all of the difference in the world as they get back into the classroom coming up in August. Reading is a skill that constantly needs to be practiced and honed and rehearsed."

Choosing books about topics that your child is interested in can make him or her more excited about summer learning.

Studies find one of the biggest backward slides over the summer happens in math, which is why Lionberger says it's important to find fun ways to refresh children's math skills at home.

"You can use everything around you to help practice math," he says. "So you're going to bake in the morning, maybe making pancakes. You can ask, 'How much sugar or how much flour do we need in grams?' Convert the standard recipe in the English system, so changing cups into grams. Make those conversions and do the math."

When it comes to science, encourage kids to get outside and go for a walk or hike. They can take notes on the different animals or plants they see.

For history, visit somewhere like Colonial Williamsburg or one of the dozens of other historical sites in the state.

Lionberger says having them practice those skills over the summer will make the transition back into the classroom much easier this fall.