How to Avoid the Summer Setback

How do you avoid having your child lose the skills they worked on all year in school?

The phenomenon does have a term — it is sometimes referred to as summer learning loss, summer setback, or summer slide. The average child in the U.S. loses more than two months’ worth of mathematical knowledge over the course of the summer (Cooper et al 1996).  This is especially true with math computation skills.

Here are a few ideas to keep your child’s skills up over the summer.


  • ESTIMATE! Before you put the apples in a bowl, ask your child how many will fit? Before you fold socks, ask how many pairs there will be? Then ask your child, “Is that a reasonable answer?”
  • GROCERY STORES: They are a great place to practice math skills especially with older children.  If one 6 pack of soda costs $3.49 how much would 3 packs cost? Before going to the grocery story. Circle the items you need and then have your child estimate what the total bill would be.
  • COOKING: Is a great way to teach about measurement and fractions, as well as converting weights and volume.
  • RESTAURANT: While waiting for your meal at a restaurant, ask your child to find 3 items that would total less than $ 5.00, $10.00 or $20.00.
  • CAR: When in the car, look at license plates and add up the numbers.
  • MEASUREMENT: Many families measure the heights of family members on a door frame or wall chart. Compare measurements.
  • CARD GAMES: Card games are a fun way to practice math such as Cribbage.
  • PLAY GAMES:  Monopoly, Mancala, Parcheesi, Cribbage


  • Send postcards or emails to grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles.
  • Practice keyboarding skills. ( It’s free!
  • Journal writing: if your child is at day camp have them write about one thing they did during the day. They might include poems, songs or stories.
  • Write a review of a game or a movie. What are the positives and negatives? Give examples. Older children can write a paragraph.
  • Write a play to perform. It could be an original or rewrite a story.


  • Join your Library Programs!
  • Have your child read for 10 -15 minutes a day.
  • Family Book Night: pick a book to read as a family that everyone will enjoy!
  • Read cereal boxes, newspapers, magazines – have your child search for certain words – make it a race!
  • Read travel brochures for vacation spots.
  • Read brochures for local museums, zoos, or historical sites.
  • Read signs, billboards when in the car. For older students have them look for nouns, verbs, adjectives.
  • Play games: Bananagrams, Scrabble, Brain Quest

You can also check with your child’s teacher(s) to get suggestions for summer reads, workbooks, science activities, etc.