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After May’s frantic preparations for tests and exams, June and July seem a constant wave of sports days, residential trips, projects, activity days and school performances.
Maths can seem to go by the wayside – and then it’s August. Children can quickly forget what they’ve learnt, and also get out of the habit of using the left (logical) side of the brain.
The term ‘summer learning loss’, also known as ‘brain drain’, is used to refer to the loss of skills and knowledge that can occur during the summer holiday.
“Not only can summer learning loss put children at a disadvantage for the beginning of the school year, but as a teacher, it often feels like September is all about getting children back up to where they were in May last year,” says Tom Minor, co-founder of DoodleMaths.
“A new academic year is a fresh start and those children who make a flying start to the autumn term are often those who carry that confidence through the whole year, perhaps moving up a maths group or performing better than expected in early assessments.”
Research from Cooper, Nye, Charlton, Lindsay, & Greathouse (1996) reports that on average children scored one tenth of a standard deviation lower after the summer holiday compared to their score prior to the summer holiday, which is equivalent to approximately one month of instruction.
Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent book, Outliers, discusses studies on the achievement gap between students of different socio-economic backgrounds.
Findings show that all children, regardless of background, made similar improvement during term time. It was during the long summer break that differences in attainment occurred, causing summer slippage.
Children from wealthier backgrounds had better access to the kinds of activities that kept their brains active, be that summer camps, physical activity programs, or formal tutoring, whereas children from low-income families were often mentally and physically unstimulated.
From July to September 2016 and 2017, scholars from the University of Bath investigated summer learning loss and whether DoodleMaths, a personalised learning app based programme, could prevent it.
If this summer learning loss could be prevented, the amount of time saved by teachers, alongside progress made by students, could be invaluable.
One hundred and twenty-eight transitioning Year 6 children across the UK took part in the study to investigate if DoodleMaths can mitigate summer learning loss. The results were significant:
“Children using DoodleMaths for just 20 minutes weekly during July and August were four times less likely to suffer from summer learning loss, and on returning to school in September, their scores average 9.4% more than their counterparts who didn’t use DoodleMaths.”
Lyons, S & Joiner, R, University of Bath, 2016
DoodleMaths was positively associated with maths test performance, with every 100 minutes of DoodleMaths predicting a 3-mark (5%) increase in test score.
This University of Bath research forms the foundation of DoodleMaths’ annual Summer Challenge, which addresses the concern over summer learning loss that both teachers and parents face.
The challenge is designed for all children to combat summer learning loss through short spells of regular engagement with the app throughout the holidays.
Here is what some parents said about the summer challenge last year:
“Thanks DoodleMaths for keeping our daughter motivated with her maths over the summer holidays. The DoodleMaths Summer Challenge has kept her interest”
Richard Budd, Parent
“It was back-to-school day yesterday, and thanks to DoodleMaths there’s been no summer slippage! Well done to our hard-working girls for all that effort over the holidays!”
Given that children using DoodleMaths are proven to avoid summer learning loss, there’s never been a better time to get started!
To find out more and get your class started doodlemaths.com/combat-summer-learning-loss.
If you are a parent reading this and would like to get your children started then head to doodlemaths.com/doodlemathschallenge.
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