Engaging children in educational activities throughout the summer builds on essential development skills and helps maintain knowledge gained during the school year. When school doors close for the summer, many children lose an average of two months' learning over the summer. This "summer slide" can lead to serious consequences with adverse effects on academic achievement.

Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004). As a result, teachers can spend three to four weeks or more re-teaching the previous year's skills at the beginning of each new school year.

Here are some family-friendly suggestions to help prevent summer learning loss:



One key way all families can reduce summer learning loss is to actively read to your children. Summer reading can take place anywhere and it's a great way to encourage children to read about new topics and to explore new interests. The National Summer Learning Association and the Campaign for Early-Grade Reading offer some good ideas for families when reading to children.

Resource: Reading Tips for Families



Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children – particularly children at high risk of obesity – gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break (Von Hippel et al, 2007). The prevalence of video games and other forms of electronic entertainment keeps many children inside. Unplug from it all and sign your children up for a summer program. Several United Way partner agencies offer learning programs and activities that keep young children active and healthy throughout the summer.

Resource: Summer Learning Programs



Whether it's reading aloud, going to the library or museum, or watching a local ball game, spending time together nurtures a young child's development and helps lay a foundation for a healthy and productive life. United Way Born Learning Trails offer educational games and suggest specific ways to create learning games outdoors. Visit one now at a local playground.

Resource: Born Learning Trail Locations