How Students, Parents and Teachers Can Counteract Extended Summer Learning Loss and Prepare for the Fall According to Sylvan Learning

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The enrichment and supplemental franchise announces that now is the time to begin preparing and learning through a variety of activities.

Summer vacation is a great time for students to unwind, but it can also result in them losing some of the academic skills they so carefully gained during the previous school year. This is known as summer learning loss, and on average, students lose two to three months of knowledge. Thanks to current school closures related to COVID-19, it’s quite possible that summer learning loss will be more significant than ever. A recent whitepaper by the Northwest Evaluation Association projects there will be major academic impacts on students due to closures related to COVID-19, with students losing six to nine months in English and language arts and a year’s worth of knowledge in mathematics.

Fortunately, there are already systems in place to combat summer learning loss, and the combined efforts of students, parents and teachers will ensure that students get up to speed quickly when students return to school in the fall - regardless if your school is opening up in person or you will be engaged in virtual learning.

A typical school year begins with students doing a recap of what they learned the previous year. This helps teachers learn just how much knowledge students have lost over the summer and determine the necessary action plan to get everyone up to speed. Some schools employ the use of standardized assessments to help them gauge how much knowledge students retained over the summer. Either way, teachers get a good handle of what kids know and, from there, teachers can figure out what they should teach and how fast they should pace it. Finding the correct starting point for all students will be more important than ever this fall.

This summer, parents and students can take a variety of steps to ensure children stay as up-to-date with knowledge as possible in reading, mathematics and more before they return to school.

The easiest subject to stay on top of is reading. There are many ways for kids to practice reading, both on their own and with their parents. For one, children should read anything they can get their hands on, whether it’s a novel or a magazine or a comic book. All reading is worthwhile. Parents who have younger children can read them bedtime stories. Students of all ages can take advantage of free online books from their local libraries. Either way, the more kids read, the better they will get.

The same is true for writing. Reading and writing feed into each other and practicing one elevates skills in the other, so children should be encouraged to write as much as they can. In fact, this is the perfect time for them to start a journal or even a video blog, which requires them to write scripts and notes. We are all living through a historic moment, and this is a great opportunity for kids to document how the events of 2020 have affected their lives.

This is also a great opportunity to incorporate social studies skills into the day. We are not just learning history - we are making it. To supplement history knowledge, there are plenty of resources online. The Smithsonian Institution, for example, offers children of all ages a plethora of activities, coloring sheets and other learning opportunities in a variety of subjects on their website.

Then there’s mathematics. Most students can stay on top of their math skills through workbooks, which can be purchased through Random House. Flashcards are an excellent tool for younger students who are still learning basic math. If it’s financially possible, engaging the help of a virtual tutor can also be hugely beneficial.

In terms of science lessons, there are a variety of creative ways for kids to stay engaged. They can go on mini scavenger hunts in their backyards or, social distancing guidelines permitting, any grassy or wooded areas by their homes, and take photos of the insects, plants and animals they see and study them. Even cooking a meal is a great opportunity for parents to incorporate a science lesson.

Regardless of the subject, students will benefit tremendously just by being engaged with the material. If children do something as simple as read while sitting under a tree, that alone is hugely valuable. And as for students who were academically behind before COVID-19? Now is a great time to invest and catch up to their peers.

Getting students up to speed after COVID-19 will require a great deal of creativity, patience and trial and error, but no one should feel discouraged. Everyone understands this is an unprecedented time, and no one is going to think badly of children for not excelling at this moment. School districts are already preparing for how to handle student progress come fall, so it’s okay for parents to take some of that worry off of their plates. In the grand scheme of things, completing a few months of home-based learning should not set students back too dramatically. By working together, teachers, students and parents can make up for lost time and combat extended summer learning loss.

By Emily Levitt, the Vice President of Education for Sylvan Learning.

With more than 40 years of experience and more than 750 points of presence throughout North America, Sylvan Learning is the leading provider of personal learning for students in grades K-12. Sylvan is transforming how students learn, inspiring them to succeed in school and in life. Sylvan’s proven tutoring approach blends amazing teachers with SylvanSync™ technology on the iPad® for an engaging learning experience. Sylvan also leads the way with Sylvan EDGE—STEM and accelerated courses and Sylvan Prep —college and test prep courses. Sylvan supports families through every stage of the academic journey. For more information, visit or

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