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Summer Retention

Summer break is (almost) here! Summer is a great time for children to explore, ask questions and have fun. But what is summer retention and how do we help the children in our lives to retain that learning over a long break?


Forgetting material learned in the previous school year happens to everyone. Add in a pandemic, online learning, new protocols and a mask mandate and it is hard to imagine any student not having difficulty remembering facts from this year. Students have so much going on, mentally and physically. Children get stressed out, too. This year has been hard on everyone. But summer is here and it is time for fun! But how do we make sure children retain information learned this year so they can be set up for success in fall?

Why is summer retention so important?

According to a study by Quinn and Polikoff, (found here) "on average, students’ achievement scores declined over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning... and declines were sharper for math than for reading". This means when a child attends school for 180 days, they are only remembering lessons taught for 150 days.

"...declines were sharper for math than for reading"

Students, on average, lost between 25 – 30 percent of their school-year learning over the summer, a number higher for black and Latino students.

Ways to help

There are many ways to help children learn and retain information over the summer.

Read this summer:

  • Visit the library to check out free books

  • Bring a book to read at the beach, in the car or waiting at a restaurant

  • Sign up for local reading challenges (Phoenix (and Maricopa County) Library Tails and Tales Reading Challenge)

Play this summer:

  • Sign up for a summer sports league

  • Enjoy morning walks

  • Get outside and play

  • Encourage children to engage in science experiments and outdoor play

Get Creative this summer:

  • Buy your child a journal to practice daily writing

  • Get art materials and get crafty

  • Find a new recipe to try

  • Start a new hobby

"Students, on average, lost between 25 – 30% of their school-year learning over the summer"

There are many ways to help children with retention, but we must stay dedicated. Make it fun, because learning is fun! It's not school so don't use worksheets or recognize "good vs. bad". Children are naturally curious and it is our job to weave in learning whenever possible! Summer retention is not talked about often, however with enough strategy and planning students will be ready and excited for the next school year!

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