At Notebook Tutors we have recently been discussing the question of summer tuition. An article on BBC News last week features two parents who deliberately chose not to give their children any academic work over the summer holidays, in order to allow them to explore, play, and connect with the natural world.
We prefer to take a more balanced approach. We know that it’s essential to ‘let kids be kids’, and children certainly need time to relax, explore the world around them, and get away from the pressures of school and exams. However, as previously mentioned on our blog, summer learning loss is a serious and real problem. Children typically lose around two months of achievement in reading and literacy, and around two and a half months of achievement in maths, during the summer holidays. As Vivienne Stiles says in the article, ‘You can’t expect [children] to pick up in September where they left off’. This has a knock-on effect on the next academic year, as teachers have to spend the first few weeks of term going back over topics previously studied, rather than teaching children anything new. This is a waste of both teacher and student time, and it is something that we can ill afford given the significant pressure on children to achieve highly from an early age.
We think a ‘middle ground’ approach is best, with a bit of tuition throughout the summer to keep children academically engaged and not regressing; but with plenty of free time as well. Some of our parents use summer tuition for their children to learn something completely different and fun, such as a new language or computer programming, and we think this is a great idea; others use it to tidy up loose ends from the academic year and ensure their children are fully on top of everything learned in the last year, so they start the next year with no outstanding issues. We’re in favour of anything that keeps children learning and engaged.