Summer Learning Loss. Summer Brain Drain. The Summer Slide. No matter how you refer to it, the idea that students lose some of their academic skills during summer vacation is a very real phenomenon. In fact, a survey by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) confirms that teachers spend a significant amount of time re-teaching course material due to summer learning loss. While many of the studies tracked learning loss for reading and math, summer learning loss can affect a student’s music skills, too. After all, knowing how to read music and play an instrument is a skill that takes plenty of time and practice. Fortunately, Summer Brain Drain in math, science, reading and music can be prevented.
Use It or Lose It
Here’s a scary fact: students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do at the beginning because they have fewer opportunities to practice these skills while on break. On average, students who don’t engage in some type of summer learning lose the equivalent of two months’ worth of their skills. Whether you’re concerned about summer reading loss or a regression in their understanding of music theory, a huge part of preventing Summer Brain Drain is to continually encourage your child to use their skills. Whether it’s practicing their instrument everyday or conducting weekly science experiments in the kitchen, encourage them to keep be proactive.
Take Them to Summer Concerts
Keeping up with what they’ve learned so far doesn’t necessarily mean your child should be constantly studying the Circle of Fifths or completing music theory worksheets. Summer is the perfect time for your child to discover that education isn’t limited to the classroom. Take your child to an Open-Mic Night at your local Music & Arts store, or encourage them to perform fun stuff they love. In most cases, they can ask their music teacher to help them learn one of their favorite songs.
If your child seems bored or lonely, consider signing up for a local theater production. City-run theater productions aren’t just a great place for your child to maintain their musical skills, but a place where they can meet new people and improve their social skills. Since these programs aren’t limited to a specific school or group of schools, your child will be surrounded by new faces, which will only help them make friends in the new school year.
Vacation with a Purpose
If you take an annual family vacation each summer, consider making education a focus. Think about what your child learned last year in school, and find activities or museums in your destination of choice that match. For example, if they just finished a unit on the Civil War, schedule a visit to Gettysburg or some other historical destination. If they especially enjoyed their geology class, take a trip to a national park. When it comes to sticking with a music theme, there are plenty of options. From Off-Broadway shows and music museums to the birthplaces of famous musicians and visits to an instrument manufacturing plant, there are plenty of domestic and international destinations for you to choose from.
Enroll Them in Summer Music Lessons
If you’re concerned about your child losing some of their music skills during the summer months, one of the best solutions is enrolling them in a music-themed summer camp or summer music lessons. Summer music camps will give your child the opportunity to explore the fun side of playing their band or orchestra instrument. While activities range from camp to camp, most summer music camps include creativity workshops, the opportunity to work with others in a group setting, and most round out the camp with a live performance. If you aren’t sure which camp to enroll your child in, ask their band or orchestra teacher for advice or check out some of our favorite summer music camps and programs.