Summer Learning for Primary aged children? Friend or Foe?

David Winfield our co-founder takes a look at holiday learning and the different views and considerations for parents looking to see how to support their child’s learning and well-being over the summer.

Having taught in a range of schools, from the most deprived state primaries, to affluent, well regarded independent prep schools, I’ve always found there are more similarities than differences. Whilst the problems may manifest or present in a different manner, the situation remains largely the same, swathes of hard working, dedicated teachers wanting to do the best for the children in their care. One of the continual contentious issues I saw in all settings was the topic of holiday homework, with there being two strong schools of thought. At one end, those who found the idea abhorrent and thought children should relax and enjoy the holidays and the opposite end being those who quote that the summer holidays relate to the olden days, when children used to work on the farm (incidentally, there is no evidence to confirm this) and think that the children should be learning.

COVID-19 has brought this debate back to the top of the agenda. With the government providing £200million for schools to provide summer schools, together with a further £200million for Holiday Activity Funds, aimed at pupil premium children – there seems to be a movement towards using the summer for learning (I hesitate to use the word “catch up” as the negativity of such a phrase does not sit well with me, children should never be “catching up” they should be “moving forward.”).

One fact that isn’t up for debate is that “learning loss” does occur in the Summer, known by some as the “Summer Slide”. The extent of this loss in Maths and English is debatable with different studies citing different figures, from as little as 2 weeks to as much as 3 months. Conversely, there have been no studies to measure the positive impact school holidays may have on learning, e.g concentration levels in September compared to December, or how time away from school may have a positive impact on mental health. As a parent it is a difficult choice to know what is right in terms of holiday learning.

I strongly believe that holiday learning is a great idea if done properly. One lesson we have learnt from the pandemic is that children can learn online, thus, with the use of video, online quizzes, and the increased accessibility of devices, there is the opportunity to provide a holiday programme that can now covers all bases. That is my reasoning for creating RocketLearn online Holiday Camps. Our Summer School offers Maths, English, Academic Enrichment (coding, Esports and much more!) Wellbeing and PE challenges. Designed to be fun, light and flexible, I want children to learn over the Summer and to keep their love of learning going, whilst fuelling their interests and helping them to grow beyond the national curriculum. If children can form good habits with daily light learning, this will hold them in good stead for the future. We hope that the RocketLearn Summer School does this in spades, offering fun learning and some great activities for all the family. Do have a look at our Summer School here, and if you are interested in your child perhaps doing 15 mins a day to keep what they have learnt fresh, then perhaps consider our Six Week Special, details of which are available here.

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