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Bridge the Gap- Why Summer Learning is Essential

Sunday, June 27, 2021 by Kara Cook | Education

       Summer is a fantastic time for relaxing and leaving the world behind. 

As soon as summer holidays begins… 

all thoughts of reading Shakespeare, adverbial phrases, maths problems and dissecting plants seem to dwindle from a child’s mindset. 

While it is important to have a break, learning during the summer is essential to keep the mind active.

Summer Slide

Six weeks is a long time. Without an enriching learning experience, many   children fall down the ‘Summer slide’ or experience ‘Brain drain’. 

Every year during the six-week summer holidays, students experience a summer learning loss of up to 20% of their knowledge and academic skills. 

Come September it takes teachers several weeks to build back their students’ knowledge and confidence.

According to a recent study by DfE, the pandemic has further widened the gap and disparities in learning loss. 

For pupils in primary schools, the average loss in reading was 2.2 months and a detrimental loss of 3.5 months of learning in maths (March, 2021)

The statistics vary for secondary students in the UK with an average loss of two months depending on the location. This makes bridging the gap that much more challenging.

What can be done?

The key to preventing summer slide is simple. Keep the mind active, get involved, and of course, have fun!

1. Inspire Summer Reading 

This is something you can do at home to motivate readers. 

♦Set aside 15 minutes a day for reading or listening to favourite books.

This can boost your child’s reading immensely. 

♦Try to invest time into reading for pleasure as a family. 

You can join in with your own favourite book!



  Summer Reading Challenge

You can get lots of inspiration from your local library or online by joining a

Summer Reading Challenge. 

This summer the Reading Agency is offering children of all ages to get 

involved by reading in the great outdoors with their Wild World Heroes

theme. Their website has age-appropriate reading lists that will engage any 


Healing Effects of Reading

Reading independently and reading aloud are essential life skills. It is also proven to have health benefits. Reading builds vocabulary, strengthens our brains, encourages good communication skills, reduces stress, and can help to raise self-esteem. 

That is reason enough to encourage your family to read more!

2. Exploring Maths in the Real World

We may not realise it, but we use maths in everyday routines. Mathematics is all around us and with a little creativity we can explore it in the real world.

Investigating Maths in the real world can be easy as doing a few activities that we do everyday with your child. 

                               Summer Maths Investigations

Maths in the Kitchen 

Kids love food, so baking or cooking-with maths is super fun!

Why not let them use their maths skills to do the measurements and double the recipe ingredients? 

All kids need these skills. Plus it may take the guess work out of ‘What’s for dinner?’ that night. 

Be active with your kids! 

Activities, such as, going for a walk or a swim can lead to an assortment of maths problems to ponder. Let your child come up with the ideas. You will be amazed at what they come up with!


Maths at the Grocery Store

Another idea is to add an element of maths into a trip to the supermarket. 

You could plan this by looking at the deals of the day and making a word problem with it. 


‘The deal says I can get three packets of burgers for £10. They are regularly £3.50 each. 

Is this a good deal? How much will I save?’ 

Or ‘The organic apples are 50% off. The regular price is £4.50 a bag. 

How much will they cost with the discount?’

Learning about percentages comes in handy when looking at discounts in a shop and money is an important part of everyday life. 


3. Creative Writing

Creative writing, story-making and journal writing are wonderful for summer activities. If your child does not so much as pick up a pen over the summer to write, they can quickly loose this essential skill. 

Not only is it important for kids to write, but they should practise their cursive handwriting too.

♦Be creative, get a few postcards for your child to fill out and send to friends and family. 

♦Encourage your child to write a hand-written letter to their friends.

♦Go on an adventure and help your child write a story about it. 

♦Keep a journal during the summer months.

  For more great ideas check out this list.

Or print out a free Kids Summer Journal

4. Visit an Educational Place 

Summer is a marvelous time to plan a trip to a museum, an aquarium, a zoo or even a national park. 

 Museums, can offer inspiration for learning 

about science, history and the environment.

Aquariums and zoos are fantastic for kids’ learning! 

They help to ignite their passion for science and wildlife. This can also lead to creativity by getting them to write stories and reports about their excursions.


National Parks in the UK are beautiful places to explore.

Why not go swimming, hiking, bike riding, bird watching, or camping? Kids will be driven to tell stories, star gaze at night, or just take in the beauty of nature!  


The experience can help ignite a love of learning for your child. It can also give them something to tell their friends come September!


5. Summer Science Experiments

 Summertime is brilliant for conducting messy, explosive science experiments

This exploding volcano experiment could be incorporated into an impromptu trip to the beach.

              What you will need: 
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Jar or large plastic bottle (with top cut off)
  • Red food colouring
  • Fairy liquid
  • Small canister with lid
  • Alka Seltzer tablets
  • Sand (sand box or on a beach)

1. First build a volcano around the jar with the sand.

2. Add some red food colouring, baking soda and a few squirts of fairy liquid to the jar.

3. Next, fill the small canister with a teaspoon of water.

4. Working quickly, plop a quarter of an Alka Seltzer tablet into the canister, close the lid and put upside down into the jar.

5. After that, pour some vinegar inside the jar to start the baking soda reacting.

6. Step back and wait about 20 seconds!

7. The volcano will burst open and spray lava all over!

♦You can easily turn this experiment into a STEM project by repeating with different amounts of Alka Seltzer tabs and water. Then measure the distance of ‘lava’.

Fun with Learning

Whatever you decide to do with your child, make it a fun and rewarding experience. 

Summer learning should enhance and enrich their education. 

You can challenge your child to discover new things. Engage them in problem solving and critical thinking. These skills are beneficial in many ways.

Summer learning can help build your child’s confidence, enthusiasm, and a love of learning

Kids love challenges so why not use the time to inspire their interests, grow their imaginations, and deepen their knowledge! 

Not only will they have fun, but their minds will be stimulated as well!

#Summer learning  #Summer challenges #Science Summer Experiments #Summer Reading Challenge #Summer Maths Investigations

Summer Group Online Tuition

Monday, June 21, 2021 by Kara Cook | Group Tuition

Summer Group Tuition

Are you looking for a fun way for your child to keep learning during the summer?

We will be offering several weekly sessions the end of July and in August to help boost confidence and keep learning ongoing. The sessions will be group-based with fun, game type activities to motivate and engage students.

Register your interest by the 10th July for more information. 

We would like to offer English/Maths Group tuition for KS2, KS3, KS4 and GCSE students (Upcoming Year 11's). The group sizes will be no more than 6 students and for 40 minute sessions. Group rates apply.

Group learning can be a starting point for 1:1 tuition or a way to keep the mind stimulated during the long hot summer!

Dyslexia:Learning Difficulties in Reading

Saturday, March 13, 2021 by Kara Cook | Special Needs

It is almost a sixth sense sometimes. Teachers can identify it. Parents dread it. Yet sadly it goes unnoticed for years and sometimes even decades.


Chances are, this is the reason why the kid you are tutoring, struggles with reading.

Dyslexia makes reading challenging. It is not a problem of intelligence, laziness, vision, or reading letters backwards.

During my first year of teaching English, I had a boy in my seventh-grade class who could not read. Because of his learning difficulty, he couldn’t read the content to answer questions and he definitely couldn’t read a book aloud.

He was fourteen, two years older than the rest of his class. You could feel his frustration. He would crouch down in his chair, hide behind his book, or even pretend he was asleep. One day I kept him in during recess and asked him what was wrong. So, he told me.

“Mrs Cook, I can’t read. So, it is useless trying.” 

His words broke my heart. I told him I would do what I could to get him help. The next day, I met with his mother. When I asked her about his learning difficulties, she said she had tried everything. They moved around a lot and school after school would just pass him off as lazy or disruptive. She was ready to give up hope.

I knew this would be on me.

Endless paperwork and meetings. It took a year to find out that he was dyslexic. I had to fight to get him tested by the psychologist and even harder to get the school to accept responsibility. But it was worth it.

The following year he was given support and placed in a special program. It took him awhile, but he slowly began to build up his confidence. When he graduated a year later from middle school, he wholeheartedly thanked me.

Dyslexia is real.

Dyslexia is a learning difference that makes reading difficult. Generally, dyslexia can cause children problems with sounding out written words, recognising common words in text, spelling, the ability to read fluently, and reading comprehension. However, it is different for each person and can it cause other issues too.

Dyslexia is common. 

According to the British Dyslexia Association, the number of individuals with dyslexia in the UK is around 10%. It often runs in families, meaning if a parent is dyslexia, there is a 50% chance that one or more of their children will too.

Dyslexia is lifelong.

Children and adults cannot outgrow dyslexia, but there are ways to improve their reading skills. With the right support, teaching strategies and approaches, people with dyslexia can manage the challenges they face. With time and practice, they can get better at reading.

Ways to Help 

  1. Give your students step-by-step instructions on the basics of reading.
  2. Teach one concept at a time. Make sure it is mastered before moving on.
  3. Offer several different ways for students to show what they know, like speaking rather than doing written work.
  4. Use technology like audio books and text-to-speech to make learning accessible.


Kids Read 2Kids

A fantastic website is KidsRead2Kids, which was founded by Dyslexic and ADHD siblings Jacob, Alana and Rueben. Their aim is to help kids that struggle with reading. They provide free video-audio books read by kids for kids with easy to listen to chapter by chapter. Their books include shortened classics and easy decodable books. These are excellent learning tools for tutors to use to engage readers.


About the Author

Kara Cook is an experienced primary teacher and freelance writer who lives in Hampshire with her husband, 12-year-old son and charming cat. As a private tutor, she offers online tutoring in English for primary and secondary students. Kara is dedicated to helping children to improve their reading and writing. She is currently working on a realistic fiction young adult book. 







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Kara Cook

Online Tutor 

of English & Maths,

Eastleigh, England

QTS, BA English, 

MA, EY Education, UCL

DBS, Member of The Tutors' Association