What you need to know about summer learning loss for middleschoolers
In elementary school it’s important….but for middleschoolers, the summers are really heating up — and I’m not referring to the weather. Summer learning loss for middleschoolers is something to pay attention to!
Summer learning loss for middle schoolers is a big deal.
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 — those foundational skills need to be there by the end of eighth grade, especially if your student is college-bound.
Particlularly if your student is finishing his or her 8th grade, plan some regular math, reading and writing work to keep or get your student to the level he or she needs to be. (And this would apply all of your student’s middle school summers, but particularly this one.)
What can I do to help summer learning loss for my Middle School student in Math?
The easiest thing to do is just to 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 I hate worksheets), they use real-life applications.
Assess what skills you want to review and how solid your student’s math skills are. Then look through the book descriptions and decide what your student would benefit by reviewing.
For example, this is the 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 as well as the student book.”
What can I do to help summer learning loss for my Middle School student 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, 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 favorites books in a few different genres.
What can I do to help summer learning loss for my Middle School student in writing?
Writing is a lot 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, an historic site, aquarium or 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 middleschooler 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 get ready to write, and then tell him you are going to set the timer for 15 minutes and he is not allowed to think about spelling, punctuation or grammar — he is just to write as much as he possibly can about the experience he’s writing about and has to stop when the timer goes off. There’s something about that timer that helps get the words onto the page! He can clean it up and organize it another day, also for 15 minutes, if need be.
Incorporate different forms of writing into the summer, as well. Here are some ideas:
- keep a prayer or other journal
- list things that your middleschooler 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.)
I hope this sparked a few useful ideas. If so, please tell me in the comments what you’re planning on doing this year with your middle school student!
*ACT. (2008) The Forgotten Middle:Improving Readiness for High School. Iowa City, IA.
P.P.S. If you have highschoolers, read this post about summer learning loss. It’s a must-read if you have high school students who are rising 9th graders!