Limit Summer Learning Loss with Fun Activities

AMES, Iowa--Students and teachers are celebrating the end of another school year, but time away from the classroom can have a negative impact on children’s academic progress.

“While some children are able to maintain school learning during the summer, others can take weeks or even months to recover from summer learning loss when they go back to school in the fall,” said Donna Donald, ISU Extension family life specialist.

According to the ISU Extension and Outreach Dare to Excel newsletter, learning loss is most common in math, language and spelling. Intelligence does not influence children’s loss of already learned information.

Parents can limit summer learning loss, said Donald.  She offers these tips to prevent summer learning loss:

  • Encourage your children to read for fun. Sign up for a library summer reading program.
  • Read to and with your children. Show by example that reading is important.
  • Involve children in summer programs that combine academic activities, outdoor recreation, crafts and field trips.
  • Help children apply math skills to daily life. Show them how to compare grocery prices, calculate gas mileage, or follow a recipe.

Iowa State University offers camps, workshops and a variety of activities for children on the Ames campus. Visit to learn more about age appropriate experiences. ISU Extension and Outreach county offices conduct local summer learning experiences; contact the local extension office to learn more, The Iowa 4-H Center near Madrid,, has recreation, camping and retreat experiences scheduled throughout the summer.

Camps are one way to keep children physically active during summer. Children need at least one hour of physical activity each day including a combination of aerobic (running, brisk walking), muscle (gymnastics, pushups) and bone strengthening activities (jumping rope), according to extension family life specialists.

“Parents are children’s primary role models, so parents should be physically active and build physical activity into family routines,” said Donald. “Walk, run and play with your child. Make physical activity fun. Encourage them to try different activities, games and sports. Let them help plan family activities.”

There are many ways for kids to have fun, as well as have a great time learning, during summer months.