Updated: Aug 5
We can all relate to that September feeling; mind blank, the strangeness of gripping a pen for the first time in six weeks. We generally put this down to getting academically rusty over the holidays but did you know that Summer Learning Loss is a real thing?
Summer Learning Loss (or "SLL") has been the subject of much research over recent years. A range of studies have noted a significant drop in results of exams taken after the summer holidays compared to those taken before.
SLL has been analysed in the UK, US and Canada, where the summer holidays are generally at least six weeks long. There has been research into how these figures are influenced by factors such as socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds to simply the age of the student.
The bad news is that no one is totally immune from Learning Loss. The good news is there are steps everyone can take to make sure the progress of the past year sticks. In fact, why not go one step better and make this the summer you get ahead?
Change your mindset
Whatever your age, start thinking of the holidays as an opportunity to slow down rather than stopping altogether. Imagine a car being left untouched on the driveway all summer – that engine is going to take some time revving up come September. It doesn’t mean you have to turn your back on all the summer fun you’ve got planned. Just make sure you put aside study time little and often.
Plan your Summer Study
There’s no point in dedicating a whole week to hitting the books or sitting in front of a screen. That only crams your short-term memory and that is not the goal here. Be sure to spread study time consistently across the six weeks. A well-rested mind focusing on one topic at a time is more likely to store that learning for the long term. Keep learning tasks varied and manageable.
Which topics do you need to consolidate or catch-up?
The Summer break isn’t the only gap in schooling we’ve had to contend with. The last two academic years have been interrupted by national lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So it is even more important to use the holidays to identify any gaps in your knowledge and take action!
Scan through the topics you’ve covered this year in each subject and make a list, prioritising the ones you need to revisit the most. Raid your pen collection and try a traffic light system; green for topics you’ve got covered, amber/orange for shaky areas and red for areas where you’re drawing a blank. Perhaps end of term assessments have already shown up your weaknesses. To put a positive spin on this: now you know exactly where to focus your attention!
Learning at your Leisure
You have breathing space to learn the way you want to and at your preferred pace, so make the most of this and enjoy the flexibility. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Shake up your sources
You don’t just have to re-read the same text books or go back through your notes. There are loads of learning resources online to shake things up and offer new ways of getting that knowledge in. Some great free options are BBC Bitesize and Quizlet
Try a tutor
If there are topics you have missed or skills you are struggling to master without the guidance of your teacher, it could be the perfect time to try tutoring. Unlike your school teachers, Titanium Tutors are available all year round. Contactable seven days a week, the admin team will carefully match your requirements to the most suitable tutors for you to choose from. Whether you need to get to grips with geometry, improve your Spanish speaking or supercharge your art portfolio, Titanium Tutors has a wide choice of subjects.
With a range of price points depending on the levels of qualification and experience, rest assured that all tutors have passed a rigorous selection and thorough vetting process. If you’re going to choose tutoring this summer, why not do it with confidence and without stress?!
Get out and about
Arrange your own school trip! Go as a family or with friends and have a fun day out whilst sneaking in a learning experience at the same time.
It needn't be expensive – check out this list of amazing museums and galleries to visit in your area that are absolutely free! Not only can you learn from the exhibits there but you can also take opportunity to share what you've learned with your group. Teaching others is a great way of revising and consolidating your own learning.
Make screen time count
Enjoying the great outdoors is the ideal way to spend the hols but if rainy afternoons, long journeys or waiting times are going to be part of your summer then why not slip in some extra learning? Head over to YouTube and discover your favourite “EduTubers.”
You’ll often find your favourite science and arts institutions have channels packed with fascinating content. Studying the classics? Bring the text to life by finding film adaptations to rent, stream or download. Foreign exchange couldn’t go ahead this year? Immerse yourself in another language by watching your favourite TV show in French, Spanish or Italian!
Find a study buddy
Be honest with yourself. If you know you can’t resist a chat with your mates and get more work done alone then it’s best you keep summer learning a solo mission. But if you thrive in company and really benefit from bouncing off another person’s ideas then recruit a study buddy.
Choose this person wisely: are they as committed to their studies as you? Would you get more done together, or is it a better idea to check in with a text when you’ve finished your study session? Are they stronger at topics you find challenging and vice versa? If you pair up, ensure you plan your study time in a way that’s mutually beneficial.
It only takes a little effort and planning now to beat summer stagnation and set yourself on track to hit the ground running come September. Get started now and your future self will thank you.
Blog Post Crafted by Jenny
Jenny studied Theatre Studies at Rose Bruford College and got a First Class BA Hons from University of Manchester.
A passionate Drama teacher, she will be completing her QTS this year.
In her spare time she can be found adding to the collection of monologues she's written or trying to improve her watercolour and calligraphy.