Summer Slide: How To Mitigate Summer Learning Loss

Summer can bring much-needed relaxation for students. It’s a time for fun, freedom, and festivities. Unfortunately, summer can also bring about a phenomenon known as the “summer slide.” Here is a closer look at what the summer slide entails, and some effective strategies to mitigate summer learning loss.

What Is Summer Slide?

The summer slide, also known as summer learning loss, refers to the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year over the summer break. Several studies have demonstrated pronounced effects in mathematics and reading, and have highlighted educational inequalities between race and gender. Other studies have also shown increased learning loss among higher-level students.

Brookings reports that, “on average, students’ achievement scores declined over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning,” but also notes that the results of recent studies on summer learning loss have been mixed. New research has brought the general understanding of summer slide into question, arguing that the nonreplicability of both historical and modern studies makes it difficult to draw accurate conclusions about summer learning loss. Nevertheless, it is still an important consideration for students, particularly as the “resource faucet” of teaching and academic support is turned off at the end of the school year.

Due to the absence of structured educational activities during the long summer break, the summer slide—whatever its extent—is an understandable result. The lack of regular, rigorous intellectual engagement can lead to a decline in students' academic skills. This is exacerbated by the fact that not all families can provide or access educational resources during the summer months. This extended period of reduced intellectual stimulation can cause students to lose knowledge and skills gained during the school year.

Strategies to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

How can these losses be mitigated during the summer months? Here are some strategies that can help students effectively combat summer learning loss.

Summer Learning Programs

Participation in structured summer learning programs is one of the most effective ways to mitigate learning loss. These programs can take the form of academic camps, library reading programs, or online courses. This can help students maintain academic skills over the summer, while also offering opportunities for enrichment and personal growth.

Our educational product, THINKING PRO, is a learning program designed to empower students with thinking tools that, in the long-term, help them lead successful lives and contribute to the wellbeing of their community. It’s a school curriculum that uses local news media as a tool to teach critical thinking, reading, and communication skills in a student-centric, teacher-supported learning environment. THINKING PRO can help students to not only mitigate summer learning loss, but also achieve educational gains over the summer months.

Regular Reading

Encouraging regular reading is another essential strategy. According to a study published in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, reading four to five books over the summer is “potentially large enough to prevent a decline in reading achievement scores from the spring to the fall.”

Creating a reading-friendly environment at home, making frequent trips to the local library, or setting up a summer book club are all great ways to make reading a fun and social activity for students.

Educational Technology

Educational technology is a valuable tool for preventing summer slide. Apps and websites, like Khan Academy or Duolingo, provide engaging and interactive learning experiences across various subjects. While screen time should be monitored, these resources can effectively supplement traditional learning methods.

Our THINKING PRO Interactive Learning Videos are a great choice for this! The heart of our technology innovation and funded by a federal grant, our videos are the THINKING PRO toolbox that enables students to build their critical thinking and reading comprehension skills. They are loved by students and teachers alike, and have shown incredible impacts on student learning. Try a demo video today!

Incorporate Learning Into Everyday Activities

Learning doesn't have to be confined to the classroom. Regular day-to-day activities can be transformed into educational experiences. Cooking can teach measurements and fractions, gardening can explore biology, and a grocery store trip can be an exercise in budgeting. Even social media and interesting news can help students develop critical thinking and news media literacy.

Remember, with the right strategies and a little creativity, summer learning loss can slide away. Summer vacation is a unique opportunity for exploration, adventure, and experiential learning that can enrich a child's education beyond the confines of the traditional classroom. Seize the summer—and its learning opportunities—today!

Here at Thinking Habitats, we use thinking tools to empower young people to lead successful lives and contribute to the wellbeing of their communities. Our online platform has helped students improve their critical thinking, reading comprehension, and news media literacy, and has had significant individual and community impacts. Try THINKING PRO today, and join our students who feel more empowered in decision-making, more mindful with their news engagement, and more connected to their local community!


Colorado Department of Education. (n.d.). Summer Slide and the Importance of Reading over the Summer.

Entwisle, D. R., Alexander, K. L., & Olson, L. S. (2001). Keep the faucet flowing. American Federation of Teachers. 

Kim, J. (2004). Summer reading and the ethnic achievement gap. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 9(2), 169–188.

Quinn, D. M., & Polikoff, M. (2017, September 14). Summer learning loss: What is it, and what can we do about it?. Brookings. Workman, J., von Hippel, P. T., & Merry, J. (2023). Findings on summer learning loss often fail to replicate, even in recent data. Sociological Science, 10, 251–285.