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How You Can Help Your Student Overcome Summer Brain Drain and Virtual Learning Loss With Summer Prep

Summer learning loss—or brain drain—is a challenge faced by students every year. With the attention of students focused on social activities, summer jobs, hanging with friends, or just having more “me” time or wanting to sleep in late, how can parents expect their children to maintain all the learning momentum accrued the previous school year? They can’t . . . and therein lies the problem, especially this year due to the pandemic.

“A recent study found that students forget up to 34% of what they just learned, and we see it in our students every year, especially in math,” says Lola Objois, president and founder of Spark Tutors a San Diego-based academic coaching and tutoring service, specializing in math and science.“ But just because summer is here doesn’t mean student learning has to stop.”

Summer Learning Maintains Momentum

Summer prep, in the form of academic coaching, tutoring, and targeted workshops, is highly effective at addressing student struggles with certain subjects or even poor study and organizational habits. And unlike yesteryear’s concept of “summer schooling” being punitive or just for kids who slacked off during the school year, nowadays summer learning is often lively, hands-on, and activity-based, geared toward making high achievers out of everyone.

“Summer programs give students access to tutors, academic coaches, and even workshops — all designed to help them strengthen the material they learned last year, give them a head start on fall courses, and even learn some new skills,” Lola explains. “And because it’s summer, students are able to operate more freely without homework, class schedules, and other academic pressures looming over them.”

Learning Loss Due to the Pandemic Is Real

This year, overcoming educational setbacks is especially challenging given the significant learning loss most K-12 teachers are attributing to pandemic-related school closures and subsequent high ratio student-to-teacher virtual learning efforts. A March 2021 article on, citing a study of 1,000 educators, found that more than 97% of respondents reported some level of learning loss in students during the school year when compared to previous years.

Clearly, with the pandemic, learning loss has become much more than just a summertime phenomenon, especially in areas with higher poverty levels and high student-to-teacher ratios, where virtual classes were found to be particularly ineffective. To get students back on track post-pandemic, there’s been talk of a universal tutoring initiative through the Federal Government. Past successes such as the "Reading Recovery," "Number Rockets," "Match Corps," and "ROOTS" programs of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, suggest that universal tutoring programs can be successful. Time will tell.

You Have Options

In the meantime, how can you help your student combat summer brain drain and virtual learning loss right now?

One recommendation is to encourage more reading for pleasure. While this is tough in the age of social media, text messages, and smart phones, reading for pleasure can stoke the mind, prime the imagination, and keep the intellectual juices flowing no matter what the time of year.

Another recommendation is to engage a tutor or academic coach this summer to help provide your student the tools he or she needs to build or reinforce study strategies, learn time management or organizational skills, or receive instruction on specific subjects such as math, reading comprehension, or writing.

Even when provided online, targeted tutoring can be highly effective, given the one-on-one attention.

We Can Help

Spark Tutors encourages you to use the summer as prep time for the upcoming school year. It can build student confidence and reduce stress in the home—benefits that often carry over from the summer months into the new school year and beyond.

With as little as one session per week, academic coaching and tutoring can strengthen the material students learned in the current school year, help them look ahead to the next year, and even provide a little fun!

We find that coaching and tutoring is especially effective for students transitioning from middle school to high school by preparing them for the new challenges ahead.

Traditional summer learning loss is tough enough. Couple it with learning loss resulting from the pandemic, and there’s no wonder students, parents, and educators are more worried than ever about how well-prepared students will be for the 2021-2022 school year.

Let’s Talk

Contact Spark Tutors today to learn how you can help your student get back on track and start the next school year with new knowledge, new skills, and greater confidence. While we are still offering tutoring online due to COVID-19 related restrictions, we are confident in our ability to keep students engaged and learning one-on-one, whether in-person or online.

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