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How to avoid the summer slide

By Atom | Aug 21, 2023, 9:38 AM

Young smiling boy sliding down an indoor slide with his arms in the air


The summer holidays are upon us, and no doubt you and your child are looking for a well-deserved break from school routines. While rest is essential for a healthy brain and body, it's also important that your child continues to learn to avoid the summer slide.

What is the summer slide?

The 'summer slide' (also known as 'summer learning loss' or 'brain drain') refers to the learning loss children experience when they aren't in school. As children are out of school for at least six weeks, this is a big missed opportunity for learning.

An American study in 2020 found that the average child aged 6–14 loses 17%–34% of their previous year's learning progress during the summer holidays. And in a survey of 500 teachers, two-thirds said that it takes them 3–4 weeks to reteach the previous year's skills in September.

Why is holiday learning valuable?

The summer holidays are a great time for children to pursue other hobbies, spend time with friends and family, and get some rest. However, maintaining the learning momentum at a slower pace has great long-term benefits:

  • Children who continue learning during the summer can gain an additional 32% of their progress from the previous school year (Alison Attebury, 2018).

  • The long holiday means there's plenty of time to slow down and focus on areas your child finds challenging. This can help them build confidence before the new school year!

  • There's also lots of time to get creative and embrace your child's interests. Having space from the school timetable to explore curiosities can help children be more observant, use problem-solving skills, and expand their vocabulary (Balani, 2020).

  • Maintaining some structure during the summer helps keep children focused and engaged. This makes it easier for them to get back into the school routine at the end of the holidays!

What activities help beat the summer slide?

1. Learning with Atom

Have fun while recapping last year's topics with Atom – the online learning platform for children aged 7–11. Watch your child go into next year's classes feeling calm, confident and prepared!

Your child masters topics and builds independent learning skills with access to over 90,000 interactive questions. Atom's algorithm keeps them on their ideal pathway, adapting to their unique pace to keep them challenged and motivated. As they answer questions correctly, they earn coins to customise Ato the monster!

Meanwhile, you get instant data on your child's progress. See their performance compared to others in their year group and know which topics to focus on next. Set practice tasks easily, or let Atom's smart algorithm do it for you.

Enjoy learning this summer

See why over 25,000 families love using Atom. Try it for free for 5 days – cancel anytime!

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Example of the Atom Nucleus platform

2. Active reading

The long summer holidays are a great time to get stuck into a new book. Regular reading can be an enjoyable way for children to build new skills, including:

  • Widening vocabulary

  • Sharpening analytical thinking

  • Enhancing imagination

  • Improving memory

  • Increasing knowledge

Encourage your child to talk about the books they're reading to help build their critical thinking skills. Here are some open questions to get you started:

  • "What do you think this book is going to be about?"

  • "If you were this character, what would you have done differently in this situation?"

  • "What do you think is going to happen next?"

  • "Who is your favourite character and why?"

  • "Why do you think the author has written this book?"

  • "What is the most interesting thing you have learned from this book?"

Looking for some new books to inspire your child? Download Atom's recommended reading list for ages 7–11.

3. Live lessons

Beat the summer slide with Atom Learning Live Lessons. Led by engaging and experienced teachers, your child can recap last year's topics and learn new content from the comfort of home.

Each Zoom lesson lasts 45 minutes and includes interactive elements, such as polls and quizzes, to keep your child engaged. And best of all, they're completely free to attend.

This summer's courses include:

11+ Trickiest Topics

Learn top tips and strategies for acing the 11+ exam, covering English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Suitable for 11+ applicants.

Book your place

Creative writing & comprehension

Discover how to structure your writing, enrich your sentences with new vocabulary, and add impact with literary devices. Suitable for all ages!

Book your place

4. Hands-on experiences

Hands-on experience are an engaging way to boost learning and help your child learn more about the world around them. Nurture their interests with day trips to museums, galleries and zoos. Plus, studies show that gaining general knowledge can help advance children's comprehension skills!

Live in London? Here are some of our favourite spots for children:

  • Horniman Museum (Forest Hill): explore global cultures and natural wonders at this South London museum – voted 2022’s Museum of the Year. This summer, experience the Brick Dinos exhibition, build your own LEGO dinosaur and dig for fossils.

  • London Zoo (Regent’s Park): visit the world’s oldest scientific zoo – home to around 16,000 animals! Explore a variety of habitats and learn about the animals at daily talks.

  • Science Museum (South Kensington): a great family day out with exhibitions in science, medicine, technology and industry. This summer, experience a hands-on gaming experience featuring the best video games and consoles from the past 50 years.

  • The Natural History Museum (South Kensington): the original home of Dippy the Dinosaur (and many other exciting life and earth science specimens). Currently exhibiting ‘Titanosaur: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur’.

  • V&A Museum of Childhood (Bethnal Green): open your child’s eyes to how other children have lived across the ages. Explore extensive collections of children’s toys and costumes. Now reopen after a major transformation!

Find free museums and galleries across the UK with this helpful directory from MoneySavingExpert.

5. Keeping a holiday journal

Does your child enjoy writing? A holiday journal can be a great way for them to unleash their creativity while keeping a record of their summer holidays. Journal writing can help your child develop writing skills, process feelings and emotions, and communicate their ideas. Plus, the end result makes a wonderful momento to look back at in years to come!

There are no rules for a holiday journal – the more random, the better! If your child isn't sure where to start, here are a few prompts to get them writing:

  • Did you go to any new places today? Write a review of where you went.

  • What activities did you do today? How did they make you feel?

  • What made you laugh today? Write a joke.

  • What was the weather like today? Describe the colour of the sky.

  • Describe the best food you ate today. How did it smell and taste?

Why not enter the Atom Learning Young Author Award this summer? Enter a creative response to the theme 'If I were in charge for a day' for the chance to win incredible prizes!

Atom Learning

Young Author Award

Do you know a child aged 7–11 who loves writing? Enter the second annual Young Author Award for the chance to win incredible prizes (including a family trip to Disneyland!).

Find out more
Atom Learning Young Author Award 2023


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