Summer vacation is often seen as a time for students to relax and recharge away from the rigors of the school year. However, this break can also lead to a phenomenon known as the “summer slide,” where students lose academic skills and knowledge acquired during the year.

This issue is particularly acute in core areas like mathematics and reading. It is more pronounced among students from low-income families who may not have easy access to educational resources during the summer months.

Summer learning loss is a challenge I have dealt with every summer as a school administrator. To assist our students, our teachers organized summer camps to reinforce students’ skills and prepare them for the next school year. To increase attendance, our teachers combined hands-on activities, technology, and reading programs to equip students with the skills necessary to be successful. As a result of their efforts, our students’ academic performance increased.

The summer slide can create significant challenges for students and teachers. As students return to school, teachers must dedicate valuable early instruction time to review material lost over the break, delaying new learning. This learning loss can accumulate year over year, widening the achievement gap and particularly affecting students from less advantaged backgrounds. Research suggests that by the time a struggling reader reaches middle school, summer reading loss has accumulated to a two-year lag in reading achievement.

So, let’s discuss some strategies to mitigate summer learning loss.

Summer Reading Programs

Encouraging reading over the summer is one of the most effective ways to reduce learning loss. Libraries, schools, and community centers can collaborate to provide engaging summer reading programs and ensure that books are accessible for all children, regardless of their home resources.

Educational Technology Tools

Digital resources can provide interactive and enjoyable learning experiences. Schools can partner with educational technology firms to offer free or reduced-cost access to learning platforms during the summer months. This approach can help maintain math and reading skills while allowing flexibility for family schedules.

Community and School Partnerships

Local businesses, non-profits, and educational organizations can work together to provide learning camps or day programs. These programs can offer a blend of academic learning and recreational activities, keeping the mind engaged while providing fun, structured environments for students.

Parental Involvement

Educating parents and caregivers about the impact of summer slide can also make a significant difference. Providing families with simple, practical strategies to incorporate reading and math into everyday summer activities can support learning outside the traditional classroom.

Year-Round Schooling

Some districts are exploring year-round schooling to reduce prolonged breaks from learning. This model can help maintain a steady learning pace throughout the year and reduce the impact of summer learning loss.

“The ‘Summer Slide’ is the distinct learning loss that students can experience when out of school.”

– Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation

Addressing the summer slide helps maintain academic progress and contributes to equity in education, ensuring that all students, regardless of their socioeconomic status, have the opportunity to succeed.

The summer slide is a significant educational challenge, but it is not insurmountable. Schools can help mitigate this phenomenon through community collaboration, innovative technology use, and strategic planning.


“When students are led well, they learn well.”

The views shared in the Educational Leadership Moment are solely mine and do not reflect the positions of my employer or any entity within the local, state, or federal government sectors.

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Dr. Kim Moore

About the author

I'm Kim, your Educational Leadership Guide. I equip educational leaders with research-based and experientially learned educational leadership principles and best practices to promote student success.