What you need to know about summer learning loss for middle schoolers

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summer learning loss middle school

In elementary school, it’s important. But for middle schoolers, it makes a bigger impact.  You need to pay attention to summer learning loss for middle schoolers.

Summer learning loss for middle schoolers is a big deal.

Did you know that according to the National Summer Learning Association, the summers before and after middle school are some of the most important summers of a young person\’s academic career?”

That’s a big statement!

And here’s another fact that will  REALLY amaze you:

The ACT (a pre-college test, like the SAT) states in their research, “the academic level a student reaches in eighth grade is more important in predicting success in college and career than what is achieved in high school.”*


So, your child needs to have those foundational skills by the end of eighth grade, especially if your student is college-bound.

Particularly if your student is finishing his or her 8th grade year, make sure to plan some regular math, reading, and writing work during the summer to keep or get your student to the level he or she needs to be. (This would apply to all of your student’s middle school summers, particularly this one.)

Editor’s Note: This post includes one or more affiliate links to books or products we’ve used and love. Should you buy something from one of these links, we might receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. But many thanks to you for supporting us in this way!

What can I do to help summer learning loss for my Middle School student in Math?

The easiest thing to do might be to keep doing math over the summer.  That might mean finishing the book your student was working on last year if it is unfinished. Or if he’s finished,  beginning next year’s level early would work.

Or, it may mean doing something else to review skills already learned or work on solidifying skills that are not quite “sticking” before more complicated skills are taught next year.

My very favorite math review books are the Key to Fractions, Key to Decimals, Key to Percentages, etc., series by Key Curriculum Press, available at Christianbook.com and Amazon.com.  I love this series because the explanations are clear and they’re practical. Instead of just worksheets (and you know how I hate worksheets), they use real-life applications.

Start by assessing how solid your student’s math skills are. Then look through the book descriptions and decide what your student would benefit from by reviewing.

For example, this is from the Key to Decimals series, with notes about the various books from the Christianbook.com website:

1. “.. basic concepts and operations on decimals. …real-world uses of decimals in pricing, sports, metrics, calculators, and science….focuses on the basic concepts.

2. “.. Adding, Subtracting, and Multiplying.”

3.  “…multiplication and division, remainders, place value, word problems, and more.”

4. “…rounding off decimals, estimating, graphing averages, the metric system, and scientific notation.”

(These are also available used on Amazon.com, which might be cheaper.  Note that you need to buy an answer key and the student book.”


What can I do to help summer learning loss for my middle schooler in reading?

Just like your younger children, middle schoolers need to keep reading daily or almost daily to keep their edge. Thirty-45 minutes a day of free reading will be enough to keep their skills up.

Especially if you encourage your student to sample a little more variety than he may have read in the past.

For example, you might help him alternate between books in different genres: historical fiction, adventure, mystery, biography, science fiction, and non-fiction.

You could always compromise and have him read something you helped pick out for the first half of reading time, then read whatever he wanted for the second half.

If you get stuck, let me know in the comments, and I’ll post some ideas of our favorite books in a few different genres.

What can I do to help summer learning loss for my middle schooler in writing?

Writing is much like reading – if you do it regularly, it becomes easier! Also, when it has a purpose, it’s easier.  Are you visiting any parks, relatives, the beach, the mountains, a historic site, an aquarium, or a museum this summer?

This is a great time to have your middle school student write a few paragraphs every week or so about what she learned and her favorite part of the experience.  A middle schooler should be able to self-edit as well. Have her look over her writing after she’s finished to make sure it:

  • has a title
  • “makes sense” when it’s read aloud (Does it say what she wants it to say? Are there any words missing?)
  • is grammatically correct
  • has the correct spelling
  • is punctuated properly

Then you take a look. You don’t need to mark all of her spelling and punctuation errors — just put on the top of the paper how many you found of each and let her try to find them herself.

You don’t have to correct everything that your student writes.  But if you find the same types of regular errors in her work, it would be helpful for you to address them, especially if this is the summer before 8th grade. Make sure to have a good grammar reference on hand to help both of you. You can see some I recommend here.

And if you have a reluctant writer…

Here’s a great writing hint for a reluctant writer:  Have him prepare to write, and then tell him you will set the timer for 15 minutes. He is not allowed to think about spelling, punctuation, or grammar — he is to write as much as he possibly can about the experience he’s writing about and has to stop when the timer goes off.  Something about that timer helps get the words onto the page!  He can clean it up and organize it another day for 15 minutes if necessary.

Incorporate different forms of writing into the summer, as well. Here are some ideas:

  • keep a prayer or other journal
  • list things that your middle schooler wants to do over the summer
  • letters to Grandma or others
  • responding to a writing prompt that you provide

If you’d rather not come up with reading prompts yourself, I have the perfect thing. Here are some already-made, downloadable journals I recently came across by Myra Johnson that might be perfect for your ‘tween! I’ve seen them, and they’re great! (Note that this is not an affiliate link.)


So, what are you planning on doing with your middle schoolers to avoid summer learning loss?


dana- summer learning loss

P.S. Read this post about summer learning loss if you have preschoolers through elementary schoolers. 

P.P.S. If you have high schoolers, read this post about summer learning loss. It’s a must-read for parents of high school students who are rising 9th graders!

*ACT. (2008) The Forgotten Middle: Improving Readiness for High School.  Iowa City, IA.

summer learning loss for middleschoolers



4 thoughts on “What you need to know about summer learning loss for middle schoolers

  1. Excellent post, Dana! If parents just chose one of these areas to focus on during the summer, the impact would be relevant. I think students are more likely to read, but much less likely to write. The value of just keeping a summer journal and self-editing can be significant. Thanks for sharing this valuable post!

    1. The more I researched this topic more I wanted to share about it! The cumulative loss was the most surprising to me, and I agree that it takes more of a formal effort to keep students writing and editing over the summer. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. 🙂

  2. Great info., as a former teacher I sure wish parent really understood it is worth the fight!

    1. Hi Rayna, thanks for adding a comment from your experienced perspective!

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