4 Ways Summer School Bridges the Summer Learning Gap


Summer vacation is an excellent time for learning. In fact, because summer is traditionally thought of as “lazy days,” with learning often relegated to the bottom of the priority list, all it takes is a quick reframe of those 90-ish days (give or take, depending on your hemisphere) as part of a K-12 experience to see the potential benefits of weaving in learning to bridge the summer learning gap so your student will meet—and even exceed—benchmarks and improve test scores. 

Year-Round Learning Helps K-12 Students Bridge the Summer Learning Gap to Meet and Exceed Benchmarks

One of the most profound benefits of mastery-based online learning is the opportunity to learn at a pace—and at times and in places—that best suits the student. This holds just as true in the summer months as it does in spring, fall, and winter.

1) Leave the summer learning gap in the rearview mirror, especially in math and reading

Math and reading are skills-based subjects requiring mastery to truly grasp the next concept in the learning lineup. If students do not remain academically engaged consistently, progress can not only stall, it can regress.

Educators have seen the impacts of “the summer slide” for generations. It’s not unusual for K-12 teachers to spend time at the beginning of each academic year rehashing what was learned the year previously to solidify the starting point at the current grade level. And then there is the added concern of learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a Pittsburg Parent article last year, Megan O’Reilly Palevich, head of school at Laurel Springs School, says year-round offerings in the K-12 space have become more widely accepted since the onset of the pandemic three years ago.

As the nation recovers from a global pandemic and the subsequent shockwaves it sent through the education system, the benefits [of year-round education options] are particularly compelling.” O’Reilly Palevich says. “Many students need an opportunity to catch up, reengage or solidify critical skills that may have been jeopardized during the academic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis.”

2) Summer school is fuel to get students up to speed

Each family’s circumstances are unique, and not every student’s educational path is linear. Children can experience any number of disruptions in their schooling, some expected and some sudden: relocation, illness, global public health crisis, or ambitions outside of the classroom.

Evidence of inequity in access to education and resources exploded during the pandemic. Thousands of students stopped showing up to school altogether as the COVID virus surged across the county. 

Time is a precious commodity for all students, and a three-month summer break sure wastes a lot of it. Year-round opportunities, on the other hand, offer consistent educational support for students to ensure continuity in learning.

3) Summer learning programs allow students to surge ahead

For some students, the biggest hurdle of a traditional school year is their academic and professional ambitions are essentially sidelined between grade-level progressions, leaving them…just waiting. They struggle with the lack of continuity. 

Summer school provides a solution! Students who take courses during summer vacation accelerate their education without getting in the way of travel time or pursuit of outside interests. 

In addition to taking core courses, students can use these months to explore areas of interest that may not be available during the regular school year. For instance, at Laurel Springs, students can choose from a list of grade-level-appropriate options of three-week interdisciplinary microcourses, or perhaps they will opt for one of the elective course offerings. 

The result? A more seamless transition from one grade level to the next—and a few steps closer to the classroom and test score success these learners dream of. Summer learning programs offer the chance to enrich knowledge and interests by exploring courses they wouldn’t have time for or access to during the traditional school year. In other cases, students may choose summer school may need to take time off from classes during a different time of year when they have other obligations.

4) Longer breaks throughout the year may mean improved mental health and less catch-up frenzy

The mad dash of August and September—back-to-school time for traditional students and teachers—can be incredibly stressful. This may be especially true for students who have relocated or are starting at a new school or who struggled academically and/or socially the year before.

Tackling school responsibilities year-round helps provide continuity and structure that can help students maintain healthy habits to support overall wellness, both physically and mentally. Summer courses students to embrace learning in optimal conditions at optimal times all year long, without having to worry about chunks of disruption in the calendar.

Also important to remember is a calendar year full of school is not a calendar year devoid of breaks. Some year-long schools offer longer class-free stretches over holidays and throughout the year; others opt for holding classes three to four days a week year-round. Others, like Laurel Springs, are self-paced programs, in which students have the flexibility to start and stop within the parameters of preset dates.

Summer classes are a way to further take charge of your child’s educational velocity.

The possibilities online summer school courses may bring your K–12 student are vast. Request more information from our admissions experts to learn more about what our summer offerings can do for you.