How to Avoid Summer Learning Loss

The lazy days of summer — with no routines or structured learning — can put your child at an academic disadvantage. Here, ADDitude readers tell us how they maintain a reliable schedule, a calm house, and an engaged child during the summer months.

Children painting outside during summer to slow down learning loss
Children painting outside
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Beat the Summer Slump

We asked our readers how they keep the learning, routines, and ADHD treatment — plus everyone’s sanity! — on track during summer break. Here’s what they do over the summer.

A checklist of activities to help children avoid summer learning loss
Pen on a checklist red checks
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1. Check it Off

“I make a daily checklist and laminate it. There’s one for school days and one for summer. Each has a front and a back — one side for mornings and one side for evenings. There are no times — just things that have to be done. That way, there isn’t a meltdown because something didn’t get done ‘on time.’” –Leetles

Family doing an activity together to avoid summer learning loss
Family Looking At Clothes On Rail In Shopping Mall
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2. Keep Busy — and Happy!

“Summer camps and maintaining some form of routine are key to us. We try to teach the basics with lots of reading and make up our own projects and tests. We also try to stay very active and make the summer as fun as possible — a nice break from the struggles at school.” –BooBoo

[Special ADDitude Collection: Summer Learning Ideas for Kids with ADHD]

ADHD Doctor scheduled at 2:30 on calendar
ADHD Doctor scheduled at 2:30 on calendar
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3. Make Appointments Easy

“I try to make all appointments at 10:30 or 2:30, just so we don’t have to remember all different times — if it’s morning, it’s at 10:30, if afternoon, 2:30, automatically. Simple, but effective.” –mrscush325

Boy sitting outside and talking about summer learning loss
Joyful male student sitting on the bench and talking on the phone
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4. Let Him Play Boss

“Summer is the one time of the year that I go by my son’s schedule, instead of the other way around. I allow him to set the pace for the summer, so all assignments are done at a time that works best for him. In the beginning, we had a few days where he tried to push doing nothing, but I stuck to my guns and told him that he was giving up the chance to FINALLY tell me what to do. This intrigued him and he soon realized that he was really in control — even if only for 90 days.” –fbueno

Couple reading together to learn about summer learning loss
Couple reading on a bench
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5. Take Respite

“Even while I’m monitoring my daughter’s summer schedule, there is also the element of protecting the well-being of me and my husband. With this in mind, I pre-arrange outings with caring family members, and seek respite weekends for my daughter through local social service agencies.” –kriscog

Family taking an educational trip to the beach to prevent summer learning loss
Mother showing son something on the beach, rest of family behind
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6. Give Her a Break

“We don’t really keep to a schedule during summer — which may not be good! But we’re all so exhausted by the time summer break comes, and she’s so excited to have that break.” –Imaginaut

[Free Download: Choosing the Perfect Camp for Your Child]

Mother discussing learning loss with her child's doctor during a summer appointment
Mother daughter and doctor
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7. Focus on Health

“My 12-year-old son has ADHD and ODD, and during the school year he’s on a high dose of Ritalin which improves his attention and his compliance dramatically. But during the summer months, I try to let him catch up on eating and growing by not giving him his medication unless it’s absolutely necessary.” –stacys2peas

Mother teaching her daughter sewing over summer to prevent learning loss
Mother and daughter sewing
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8. Teach Life Skills

“Summer is the time for my daughters to earn life skill ‘badges.’ These are things like learning how to cook a certain meal, do their own laundry, or wash the table.” –Halfwritten

Boys laying outside in the grass over summer, not learning anything
Boys lying on grass outside blue shirt green shirt
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9. Start with a Vacation

“We first have a bit of a break from the school year. I let my 13-year-old son sleep late, have a leisurely breakfast and then play a few video games. After a couple days of this, it’s time to use a schedule. I still let him play, but we also go to the library to get some books to read throughout the summer, we swim at the town pool, attend a few camps, invite friends over and visit the grandparents.” –Kat5

A young girl at a doctor's appointment over summer, learning how to use a stethoscope
family during medical appointment
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10. Refine Treatment

“Because my daughter has a very narrow therapeutic window, and her meds are currently not optimized due to significant side effects, we are using the summer to try some meds which require a long build up — and some neurofeedback — in the hopes that these will supplement the very low dose of stimulants she can tolerate.” –dramy

Group of kids sitting on a branch over summer
Cropped shot of a group of boys’ legs dangling from a branch they’re sitting on
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11. Let Interests Blossom

“The children will be going to different camps to cater to their interests. My daughter’s passions are horseback riding, ballet, and soccer, so she’ll do that. The boys will do swimming and arts and crafts camp. We’ll also do the 'library reading summer challenge' — where we introduce a family reading time.” –Gabs

Teen girl studying over summer to prevent learning loss
Portrait of a young woman studying on her sofa
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12. Prescribe a Daily Dose of Writing

“Writing is a big challenge in our house, so we set aside time almost every day to write a little bit about our day — whether it’s about a fun trip, a science experiment, or just the daily fun of summer. As long as there is reasonable effort, it’s about spending 15-20 minutes on the steps of writing — not getting a certain amount written or worrying about grading the result. A little bit of writing on a fun topic keeps things calm and low pressure, while still practicing this vital skill.” –quietsmilie

Young boy volunteering over summer, learning about disaster and loss
Boy volunteering box disaster relief
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13. Help Others

“My daughter has always benefited from being around animals, especially dogs and horses, and volunteers caring for them. Summer is a good time to get extra volunteer work in.” –SnapSprite

[11 Summer Brain Builders]