The best way to prevent summer learning loss is to maintain regular practice. Follow these tips to stay in shape over summer vacation!

Summer Learning Loss

It’s summertime, and the learnin’ is easy! Though it is important to spend some time relaxing, students who fail to maintain regular academic practice over summer break suffer dramatic consequences. It is well known that students who do nothing other than have fun during summer suffer losses in their academic abilities: they lose knowledge they had gained in the previous year in school, and their test scores decrease.

What is the impact of summer learning loss?

Students who don’t continue practicing and learning key skills and knowledge over the summer risk a knowledge loss that can potentially amplify achievement gaps. This means that the knowledge lost during summers in early elementary grade levels can put students behind in middle or even high school. In the words of the Red Queen, “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”

So, the question arises: How do I prevent this? Simply put, your child can avoid summer learning loss by continuing to tackle new topics, practicing what they’ve learned, and sticking to a plan. So, let’s take a look at what summer practice looks like, and how it applies to your child.

How do I prevent summer learning loss?

To address this issue, it is best to have your child meet regularly with a private tutor, and/or enroll your child in structured summer learning programs, such as the group courses we are hosting this summer. Consistent summer learning is critical for maintaining academic skills, and the research supports that notion; evidence from summer school programs illustrates that targeted interventions can prevent learning loss in key subject areas—like mathematics—underscoring the importance of consistent academic engagement during summer.

Engaging in math throughout the break is crucial for your child’s mathematical retention. Daily math challenges, interactive online platforms, or math-focused games and activities can be beneficial. Moreover, enrolling your child in one of our summer enrichment classes offers significant added benefits, such as a structured curriculum, our brilliant instructors, and a social environment for collaborative learning. Practicing old math skills and learning new math concepts over the summer ensures a strong start to the next school year

What does summer practice look like?

The two types of summer practice are enrichment and remediation – you are either getting ahead or catching up. Remediation is rather straightforward: your child’s skills and foundation in a subject isn’t strong enough from the past academic year, and they need to review, practice, and even relearn that content. Enrichment, on the other hand, depends entirely on the goals the student wants to achieve and will look different from student to student.

For example, let’s assume I am a rising 8th grade student looking to prepare for Algebra I, which I’ll be starting in the fall. Proper summer math prep will set me up for success in mastering new material of the class and retaining the foundational skills I built up over the previous academic year. Though I am very much looking forward to all the hijinks and shenanigans that I plan to get up to with my friends and family this summer, to achieve my goal, I need a plan to balance fun and relaxation with proper math practice.

Because we all share the same goals, we must work together to strike a balance between productivity and life satisfaction. Oftentimes, children need help with setting proper goals and developing a plan to reach them. This is best done in a collaborative way, you and your child working together, as getting their early consent will maximize buy-in. Let’s take a look at how a summer of math prep could be structured to stop summer learning loss.

Students collaborating to prevent Summer Slide, during summer while on a slide.Step 1: Set concrete and realistic goals

To accomplish anything in life, one’s goals need to be specific. Saying, “I want to be better at math,” is useless without defining what “better” means, and what “math” means, for that matter. Instead, a better goal might be, “By the end of the summer, I will have a strong understanding of the concepts in the first semester of Algebra I, and I will be able to confidently and independently solve the types of math problems associated with those concepts.” That goal defines both the timeline and the desired end result, and it is measurable, which is another key characteristic of a well-defined goal. It is easier to “stay on track” when striving for a measurable goal, because they will be able to look at the progress made along the way and see if they are hitting benchmarks. For example, if your child is trying to master 20 math concepts in 12 weeks and has mastered 6 concepts by the end of the 3rd week, then their pace is strong.

Step 2: Design a schedule and stick to it

Once your student has set realistic goals, they need to develop a plan for achieving them. In order to reach their goals, students need a plan. Instead of approaching scheduling with the mindset of a prison warden, you and your child should start planning in a way that maximizes both end results and happiness/life satisfaction. For example, if your child loves going on weekend afternoon bike rides with friends, it would not make sense to try to schedule math practice in the afternoon on weekends. Instead, do yourself and your child a favor, and craft a practice schedule that focuses the work in the morning.

When planning a summer prep schedule, the key is to find a balance that fits practice into the summer without crowding out the summer fun. First, lay out the weeks of summer on a calendar and pinpoint the times that are best for focus and won’t conflict with other activities, like early mornings. Slot in study sessions consistently during these times, making them a cornerstone of your family routine.

Step 3: Manage expectations and have regular check-ins

It’s important to understand that practice takes time. For a student to maximize summer enrichment, commitment is key. Students should plan on learning a new skill/concept every week, and practicing it multiple times a week. In all, it is reasonable to expect to spend 3-4 hours per week on summer math prep. But you can think of that time as an investment; time spent practicing in the summer will lead to less time spent on work during the school year.

Maintaining this schedule is as important as creating it. Set weekly check-ins to discuss progress and make adjustments where necessary. This keeps the study plan dynamic and responsive, ensuring it supports your child’s goals while still allowing them to enjoy their summer. These regular reviews, which can include mini checkpoint-style assessments, help keep the study habit integral to the summer routine, making sure your student stays on track in a manageable and effective way.

Let’s look at a concrete plan to stop summer learning loss. Here is an example of a 12-week practice schedule for students preparing to start Algebra 1 in the fall:

Summertime Algebra Enrichment
Week What is the focus? What are the concepts? How do I practice?
1 Foundations of Algebra Introduction to Algebraic Thinking, Variables, and Expressions 30 questions on simplifying and evaluating expressions
2 Operations with Real Numbers Properties of Numbers, Order of Operations, Absolute Value 20 questions on order of operations and 10 questions on absolute value
3 Analyzing and Representing Data Graphs and Tables, Measures of Central Tendency, Variability 15 questions on creating graphs and 5 questions each calculating mean, median, mode, and range
4 Solving Linear Equations & Inequalities One-variable Linear Equations, Multi-step Equations, Inequalities 15 questions solving one-variable equations and 15 questions solving inequalities
5 Solving Systems of Linear Equations Graphical Methods, Substitution, Elimination 30 questions solving systems of equations using different methods
6 Understanding and Representing Functions Definition of a Function, Function Notation, Domain and Range 10 questions identifying functions, 10 questions working with function notation, and 10 questions finding domain and range
7 Linear Functions Slope, Rate of Change, Y-intercept, Graphing Linear Functions 15 questions calculating slope and 15 questions graphing linear functions
8 Writing and Graphing Linear Equations Forms of Linear Equations (Standard Form, Slope-Intercept Form), Graphing Techniques 30 questions writing and graphing equations in different forms
9 Liner Inequalities Graphing Linear Inequalities, Systems of Linear Inequalities 15 questions graphing solutions to linear inequalities and 15 questions graphing systems of inequalities
10 Solving Quadratic Equations Quadratic Formula, Factoring, Completing the Square 10 questions solving quadratic equations by factoring, 10 questions using the quadratic formula, and 10 questions completing square
11 Graphing and Applying Quadratic Functions Graphs of Quadratic Functions, Properties of Parabolas, Applications of Quadratic Functions 15 questions graphing quadratics, 10 questions analyzing parabolas, 10 questions applying quadratics to real-life problems
12 Summative Review Review of All Topics, Exam Preparation Strategies Complete a test that includes 3-5 questions of each topic in weeks 1-11

Summer Test Prep

For students preparing for standardized tests such as the Lower Level ISEE for rising fifth graders, the Upper Level ISEE for rising eighth graders, and the ACT and SAT for rising eleventh graders, summer is a critical time for focused study. Your child needs to dedicate regular and consistent time throughout summer to review tested concepts and practice under test-like conditions to make a significant difference in their test performance. As a bonus, the skills your child develops while engaged in meaningful test prep have bleed-over effects into other areas; practicing math for the ISEE will also help with math classes in school. That means that summer test prep can also stop summer learning loss.

It’s not only about keeping the academic momentum going; it’s about taking control of one’s learning trajectory in a way that directly influences their test preparedness and overall academic confidence. For parents, the takeaway is clear: proactive planning and structured study during summer plays a pivotal role in a student’s educational success.

Goals and Targets

Summer test prep should be structured with a focus on official test dates. Students preparing for the SAT over the summer should plan on taking the first official SAT in August. Similarly, students preparing for the ACT over the summer should plan on taking the first official ACT in September. Framing summer prep in this context makes everything more real to your child, adding weight to the necessity of regular summer practice.

Also, summer test prep should be scheduled with score goals in mind. For instance, if a rising Junior takes an SAT practice test at the beginning of May and scores a 1000 composite, that student’s goal could be to score a 1100 on a practice test mid-July, and then score a 1200 on their official SAT in August. Setting regular benchmarks and intermittent score goals—measured by taking a practice test every 8 to 12 weeks during the prep timeline—will help students stay on track with their preparation. (Click here to learn more about studying for the SAT.)

It’s no different for students preparing for the ISEE. Since students can take the ISEE once in the Fall period (August to November) and again in the Winter period (December to March), those preparing to take the exam should also take a full-length practice test every 8 to 12 weeks throughout the process. We recommend that your child targets taking the ISEE in October/November in the Fall period and again in December/first week in January for the Winter period. (Click here to read more about what makes a “good” ISEE score.)

So, what does summer test prep look like? Example timelines can be found below:

SAT Summer Prep
Week What is the focus? What are the concepts? How do I practice?
1 Initial Baseline Mock Test
SAT #1 in BlueBook App
General Overview, Section Overviews, and reviewing mistakes made on SAT #1 Take a full-length SAT practice test (SAT #1 on College Board’s Blue Book App)
2 Reading + Writing (R+W) concepts Words in Context, Structure and Purpose Complete and review SAT #2 R+W Module 1
(click here for more info on modules)
3 Math concepts Quadratic Functions, Graphs of Quadratic Functions, Polynomials and Their Graphs Complete and review SAT #2 Math Module 1
4 Reading + Writing (R+W) concepts Text Connections, Main Idea Complete and review SAT #2 R+W Module 2B
5 Math concepts Circles, Right Triangle Trigonometry, Unit Circle Trigonometry Complete and review SAT #2 Math Module 2B
6 Reading + Writing (R+W) concepts Supporting Ideas, Quantitative Evidence Complete and review SAT #3 R+W Module 1
7 Math concepts Angles, Congruence, and Similarity, Area and Volume, Measures of Center and Spread Complete and review SAT #3 Math Module 1
8 Reading + Writing (R+W) concepts Inference, Punctuation and Boundaries Complete and review SAT #3 R+W Module 2B
9 Math concepts Scatterplots and Data Representations, Data Inferences, Linear Equations and Their Graphs Complete and review SAT #3 Math Module 2B
10 Mock Test
SAT #4 in BlueBook App
Review Key Lessons in Trouble Areas Take a full-length SAT practice test (SAT #4 on BlueBook App)
11 Reading + Writing (R+W) concepts Grammar Agreement, Transitions Complete and review R+W #5 Modules 1 & 2B
12 Math concepts Probability, Rates, Ratios, and Proportions, Percentages Complete and review Math #5 Modules 1 & 2B
ISEE Summer Prep
Week What is the focus? What are the concepts? How do I practice?
1 Overview and Strategies
Section Overviews
ISEE structure, section-specific format, question types Complete and review a full mock test (timed)
Study 30 words on FreeRice.com
Flashcard Quiz – Group 01 (Lower-Level or Upper-Level)
2 Verbal Reasoning (VR)
Learn math topics
Synonyms, Sentence Completion, Order of Operations, Fractions & Decimals, Percentages Complete and review a timed Verbal Reasoning section
Study 30 words on FreeRice.com
3 Reading Comprehension (RC)
Learn math topics
Supporting Ideas, Inference, Arithmetic Word Problems, Ratios & Proportions Complete and review a timed Reading Comprehension section
Flashcard Quiz – Group 02 (Lower-Level or Upper-Level)
4
Verbal Reasoning
Quantitative Reasoning (QR)
Main Idea, Vocab-in-Context, Probability, Domain & Range Complete and review timed VR and QR sections
Study 30 words on FreeRice.com
5
Reading Comprehension
Mathematics Achievement (MA)
Organization and Logic, Tone, Style, Figurative Language, Transformations on Functions Complete and review timed RC and MA sections
Flashcard Quiz – Group 03 (Lower-Level or Upper-Level)
6
Verbal Reasoning
Quantitative Reasoning
Sentence Completion, Supporting Ideas, Number Lines, Operations on Algebraic Expressions Complete and review timed VR and QR sections
Study 30 words on FreeRice.com
7
Reading Comprehension
Mathematics Achievement
Inference, Main Idea, Multiplying Polynomials, Factoring Algebraic Expressions Complete and review timed RC and MA sections
Flashcard Quiz – Group 04 (Lower-Level or Upper-Level)
8
Verbal Reasoning
Quantitative Reasoning
Vocab-in-Context, Organization and Logic, Linear Equations & Their Graphs, Quadratic Equations and Their Graphs Complete and review timed VR and QR sections
Study 30 words on FreeRice.com
9
Reading Comprehension
Mathematics Achievement
Tone, Style, Figurative Language, Types of Angles, Triangles: Types and Rules Complete and review timed RC and MA sections
Flashcard Quiz – Group 05 (Lower-Level or Upper-Level)
10
Verbal Reasoning
Quantitative Reasoning
Synonyms, Main Idea, Polygons: Angles, Perimeter, and Area, Circles Complete and review timed VR and QR sections
Study 30 words on FreeRice.com
11
Reading Comprehension
Mathematics Achievement
Sentence Completion, Supporting Ideas, Solid Geometry: Surface Area and Volume, Simple & Compound Interest Complete and review timed RC and MA sections
Flashcard Quiz – Group 06 (Lower-Level or Upper-Level)
12 Mock Test Comprehensive Review of All Topics Covered Complete and review a full mock test (timed)

What Can General Academic Do to Help?

We are here to help stop summer learning loss. Our expert tutors are available every day of the week, ready to meet your child’s needs at whatever time fits into your busy schedule. Whether your child is receiving the full attention of a tutor during one-on-one private tutorials, or they are enrolled in one of our expertly-designed group courses, you can expect great results and a high level of ongoing support.

Private Tutoring

Our top-notch tutors, each academic success stories of their own, are available day and night, seven days a week, ready to help students with all academic subjects, as well as with test prep for the SAT, ACT, ISEE, and more. In addition to standard tutoring services, we also offer Personal Courses, individually-tailored to meet the specific needs of your student.

Our personal courses are designed with specific content goals for your student’s needs, which can be for enrichment or remediation, and all crafted to stop summer learning loss. Depending on the subject, we use Piqosity and other resources to:

  • review and teach content, such as preparing students for Geometry, Chemistry, Physics, and more
  • strengthen your student’s reading and writing skills
  • improve your student’s note-taking skills and their organization, planning, and study habits
  • prepare your student for a standardized test, such as the ACT, SAT, or ISEE

We work around your busy schedule to provide the one-on-one support your child needs.

Summer Courses

We are offering a wide array of small-group classes over the summer months, each meticulously designed to maximize efficient use of time, so that students can maintain their academics without sacrificing their entire summer. Our small group courses are capped at 8 students maximum, and each course is 15-hours in duration. A full list of courses can be found here, and here are a few examples:

Test Prep, Subject, and Speech Courses

Executive Function and Writing Courses

Author

  • Samuel Pearson

    Samuel Pearson is General Academic's Associate Manager. He graduated from Rice University in 2017 with a B.A. in Cognitive Science & Visual and Dramatic Arts. Before joining General Academic's team in 2023, Samuel was a high school teacher and technical director at a premier independent school in Houston.

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