School can suck. Summer learning loss can make it worse.
You have to wake up early. You have to show up to class. There is plenty of schoolwork you need to get done. You have to listen to boring lectures. At the end of the day, you need to go back home and do even more work for class.
Summer break can be a relief. You get to take a break from the regular grind.
Here is something most students don’t think about:
The way you spend you summer defines your next semester.
Since most students don’t think about this, you can win big from it.
Don’t believe me? I’ll show you exactly what I mean.
Then I’ll show you how to make summer a relief and a chance to get ahead in class.
Summer Learning Loss
Have you ever noticed how the first month or two of a class in a new semester is review?
Your teacher goes over stuff that you went over the year before. It’s stuff everyone has already learned but the teacher is reintroducing the students to it.
I imagine you might have heard of summer learning loss before.
Summer learning loss is one of the most widely studied topics on education. The studies have repeatedly shown that students forget 2-3 months of what they learned the year before during summer break in the United States.
This is because your memory isn’t just a place you store information. It’s a place that you actively have to manage. It’s kind of like your bedroom. You live in it. You throw all kinds of stuff everywhere around the room. Then, a couple months later, you may not remember exactly where you left what you need but you know it’s in that bedroom somewhere.
You need to constantly adjust the position of things to know where everything is.
During summer, students stop using the tools they learned during class. That means they tend to forget them.
In high school, I would have thought:
Screw remembering this stuff! It’s summer! Why do I care?!
Here is why I now care…
Three Month Head Start
Remember how I mentioned teachers spend the first months of a class reviewing stuff from the previous semester?
Imagine you didn’t need the review. Imagine you remembered all the information your teacher taught you the previous semester.
It would be pretty boring, right? But… it would also be super easy. While every other student in the class is struggling to regrasp the concept, you’ll know it. That means you’re going to score high on the early assignments and tests. That means you’re going to end up with a higher final score.
You’d have a head start.
You would be months ahead of every other student. Your score will get a major boost compared to the other students. You’re school year starting won’t be as painful a process because you’re going to be ahead of the game.
But I Still Don’t Want My Summer To Suck!
I know what you’re thinking…
Why ruin a perfectly good summer because you want an extra 5 points on your final score next year? Well… at least some of you are thinking that. I used to think like that but I was missing an important point.
You don’t need to ruin your summer to prevent most of the summer slide. You just need to spend a few minutes each day.
You know those times when you’re sitting around thinking, “I’m boooooooooored…” If you only used those times to study then you’d end up way ahead of the average student. Just pull out a set of old flashcards or Anki and review some stuff. You don’t even have to learn anything new. Just keep moving stuff in your brain around a little.
Aaron recommends you use the 15MSS all summer. It’s only 15 minutes of studying a day. The most important advantage of that strategy is that you never lose your habits developed during the school year.
The reality is: You barely need to spend anytime working on school stuff to prevent summer learning loss. Just a couple minutes of thinking a day will prevent most of it. Then, next semester, you’ll gain a bunch of free points from easy assignments. And you won’t even have to learn much until a couple months in.
How To Prevent The Summer Slide In Less Than 10 Hours
You don’t need to study as hard to remember something as you do to learn it. Remembering stuff is relatively easy. Science has been looking into it for decades. It’s just a matter of using active recall on a regular basis.
By studying less than 10 hours over summer break, you can prevent the vast majority of the summer slide. There are just a few things you need to do:
- Study daily (at least) a tiny amount of time
You don’t need to study long to remember stuff but you do need to study it regularly. You can’t cram for 10 hours one day and expect to remember everything. The key is spreading it throughout your whole summer. Keeping it short makes that easier.
- Use flashcards (or any form of active recall.)
Most of what you’ll need to remember is stuff that you already understand. That makes it the perfect information to remember with active recall. Look at the information, look away from it, and then remember it. It’s just like using flashcards.
Keep in mind – this is super easy if you use flash cards through the semester because you can just use the same flashcards.
- Use practice when possible. (Do math problems.)
Practice is even better than active recall but it’s just harder to use for most things. Remember stuff from your math class by doing just one or two problems whenever you plan on studying it. You may not use every tool you learned but by picking challenging problems, you’ll be forced to figure out which tools to use. Remembering how to do that is huge.
- Do fun stuff WAY more than you study!
Seriously… it’s summer freaking break! Do something fun.
The choice isn’t between whether or not you’re going to enjoy summer break or get good grades. You don’t have to make that choice. It’s not that hard to do both but there is a choice you need to make before that. The choice you need to make is this…
Do you want to live your life to the fullest?
When you answer yes to this question, you can’t sit around bored for hours. You can’t veg out to movies you don’t actually want to watch. You can’t sleep in late because you have nothing better to do.
You don’t have to live your life to the fullest. Over this summer, you’re going to have plenty of chances to decide that.
Make the right choice.