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Make the Most of Summer Break: Practical Tips for K-12 Teachers 

How to set up students—and yourself—for success in the fall.


Summer break is eagerly awaited by both students and teachers. It marks the end of the school year, which is filled with awards ceremonies, fun activities and a well-deserved break. As K-12 teachers wrap up their responsibilities, take down classroom decorations and eagerly anticipate mornings free from the alarm clock, they also dedicate countless hours to preparing students for the summer break and ensuring a smooth transition to the next school year. During this time, teachers strive to strike a balance between allowing students to rest and encouraging them to stay academically engaged. In this blog, we will explore some summer break tips for teachers—and students—to ensure that everyone takes a break that sets them up for success in the fall. 

Make Personal Growth a Priority All Summer Long 

By focusing on personal growth and development during the summer break, students can return to school in the fall with renewed energy and a sense of purpose, ready to tackle new challenges and continue their academic journey. 

During the summer break, students can: 

  • Shift their focus from structured classroom learning to exploring new interests, developing important life skills and spending time with family and friends. 
  • Participate in summer camps, sports teams and other extracurricular activities that may not be available during the school year. 
  • Engage in independent learning, such as reading books or pursuing hobbies that foster creativity and critical thinking. 
  • Reflect on their academic progress and set goals for the upcoming academic year. 

Two Ways to Help Students Avoid Summer Learning Loss 

During summer break, students often experience a phenomenon known as summer learning loss. Research shows that while on break students can forget 17%–34% of what they learned during the school year. This setback reverses the progress they made during the year, making it crucial for teachers to understand how students spend their summers and to provide resources to support their learning. Unfortunately, not all students have access to summer enrichment programs that promote consistent learning. However, with the right resources, such as summer reading lists and learning packets, we can address summer learning loss and ensure that students’ academic success extends beyond the school year. 

Summer Reading Lists 

Summer reading lists can keep students engaged in reading and help them maintain or improve their reading skills. They can also be an opportunity for students to explore new genres, authors or topics that they may not have encountered in their regular school curriculum. A summer reading list should: 

  • Encourage students to continue reading during the summer months. 
  • Include a selection of books that students can choose from, ranging from classic literature to contemporary bestsellers. 
  • Keep students engaged in reading and help them maintain or improve their reading skills. 
  • Provide a shared reading experience for students, teachers and parents, fostering discussion and critical thinking skills. 
  • Help students develop a lifelong love of reading and make students more thoughtful and engaged readers. 

Upon finishing the books, students are encouraged to write up their reflections on the book or participate in book clubs to further enhance their comprehension and critical thinking skills. Summer reading lists can be tailored to different grade levels and interests, ensuring that students have a variety of options to choose from. 

Summer Learning Packets 

Summer learning packets are another valuable resource to combat summer learning loss. These packets typically contain activities and exercises that align with the curriculum covered during the previous school year. They provide students with an opportunity to review key concepts and skills, keeping their minds active and preventing knowledge regression. 

Some key benefits of summer learning packets include: 

  • Reinforcing academic skills: Students can practice important concepts and skills in subjects such as math, science, language arts and social studies, helping solidify their understanding and retention. 
  • Bridging gaps: Summer learning packets can address any knowledge gaps or areas of weakness that students may have, preparing them for the upcoming school year and ensuring a smoother transition. 
  • Promoting independent learning: Students can work through the packets at their own pace, fostering self-discipline and a sense of responsibility for their own education. 
  • Involving parents and guardians: Summer learning packets provide an opportunity for parents and guardians to engage in their child’s learning process. They can support and guide their child as they complete the activities, strengthening the home/school connection. 

It’s important for schools and educators to ensure that summer learning packets are accessible and engaging for students. Clear instructions, varied activities, and opportunities for creativity and critical thinking can make the learning experience enjoyable and effective. 

The Importance of Addressing Potential Inequalities 

While summer break can be a time of relaxation and exploration for many students, it’s crucial to acknowledge and address potential inequalities that may arise during this period. Some students may have limited access to resources, such as books, educational materials or summer programs, which can exacerbate the achievement gap. 

To mitigate these inequalities, it’s important to: 

  • Provide equal access to resources: Schools and communities can collaborate to ensure that all students have access to summer reading materials, learning packets and enrichment programs. This may involve distributing resources, establishing partnerships with libraries or community organizations, or offering scholarships for summer activities. 
  • Foster a supportive environment: Teachers and school staff can maintain communication with students and their families over the summer break. This can include providing guidance, answering questions, and offering support to ensure students feel connected and motivated to continue learning. 
  • Tailor resources to diverse needs: Recognize that students have different learning styles, abilities and interests. Providing a range of resources and activities can accommodate diverse needs and engage students in meaningful ways. 

By addressing potential inequalities and providing support and resources during the summer break, educators can help minimize the impact of summer learning loss and promote equitable educational opportunities for all students. 

Use the Summer Break to Relax and Learn at the Same Time 

Summer break offers a valuable time for students and teachers to recharge and pursue personal interests. However, it’s important to strike a balance between relaxation and continued learning. By encouraging students to engage in activities such as reading and completing summer learning packets, educators can mitigate the effects of summer learning loss and ensure a smooth transition into the next academic year. 

By addressing potential inequalities and providing equal access to resources during the summer break, teachers can contribute to narrowing the achievement gap and promoting educational equity. When students return to school in the fall, they can bring renewed energy and enthusiasm as well as a continued love for learning. 

So, make the most of your summer break. Embrace the opportunities for growth and return to school ready to make the upcoming academic year a success. 

Written by:

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Table of Contents

  1. Make Personal Growth a Priority All Summer Long 
  2. Two Ways to Help Students Avoid Summer Learning Loss 
  3. The Importance of Addressing Potential Inequalities 
  4. Use the Summer Break to Relax and Learn at the Same Time 

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