Summer vacation is supposed to be fun and enjoyable — a time to relax and take a break from school. However, it is also a time when your children can lose their educational edge, putting them at a disadvantage when they return to school in the fall.

In fact, when your children return to school, they may have experienced such learning loss during the summer, that they will need to spend several weeks catching up to where they once were academically.

Parents that stay involved and proactive in creating teachable moments over summer vacation can bond with their children and have a lot of fun learning together. When my own children were young, I was a schoolteacher, so I used the old lesson plan approach to summer activities. We took trips to many museums, and took every opportunity to practice and rehearse math and science skills, history, and geography in ways that were both enriching — and fun.

Here are a few tips for preventing summer learning loss that worked for me:

  1. Visit your local library. A family trip to the library is a wonderful source for many activities. This includes taking turns reading to one another, sharing interests, and opportunities for you and your child to write and discuss your choices of reading material. You can also record stories that you and your children create for one another, to be played back at bedtime or by a babysitter when you have a date night.
  2. Encourage your children to connect with other children.Having a pen pal or a children’s book club over the summer is a free and fabulous way of engaging your children in reading and writing, English, and literature.
  3. Cook with your children. Cooking is a great way to teach about measurements and how to use fractions. Theme nights for dinner not only teach cooking skills, but math, as you teach your child how to measure and convert weights, volumes, and numbers. Using an historical cookbook for a taste of history can help you and your family re-enact events important to our past.
  4. Get into the act with the whole family. Putting on family plays, writing scripts, rehearsing and memorizing parts, can help your child not only learn about writing and organization, but also about performing. Try musicals, which can tap into your child’s musical talents and skills, while all along building self-esteem.
  5. Spell F-U-N with family game nights. Family game night including Scrabble, Taboo, or crossword puzzles, is a great way for your child to polish up on spelling. And simply enlarging your summer-time vocabulary daily will increase your child’s.
  6. Teach about money, stocks, and bonds. Use the newspaper as a teaching tool. This is an interesting and fun way to engage your children in math. Your kids will love it, because they will feel grown up, imitating you.
  7. Make the most of family vacations. Family trips to historic places like Williamsburg, Valley Forge, or The Liberty Bell, are fun vacations that include the re-enactments of important moments in history, and are locations that offer plenty of recreational fun for the whole family as well.
  8. Play tourist in your hometown. Remember, you don’t have to travel far or spend a lot of money: every town has its own historical sites and interesting museums that you can take advantage of. Break out a map of your hometown and visit places you haven’t visited before, or haven’t been to in a long time.

Summer can be filled with fun activities that also serve as enriching learning experiences that help children keep their educational edge and prepare for school in the fall. There are so many more things you can find to do with your children; this list is just a start.

Be creative, be engaged, and most importantly, remember that learning during the summer can be fun for the whole family!


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.