Worried about the academic summer slide? Spend this summer boosting skills instead of losing them. An expert at Academic Approach shares why summer tutoring works.
Summer holidays are upon us, and after a year of uncertainty, everyone is ready for a bit of fun in the sun. Summer is also an excellent time for academic tutoring, skill-building and test prep since students have time off from their schoolwork and extracurricular commitments, says Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder and CEO at academic tutoring and test prep company Academic Approach.
“Parents and students always ask why summer is the best time of year for tutoring and test prep, and we find that the majority of students simply have more time during the summer to commit to intensive work,” Pietrafetta says. “The days are longer and they have fewer academic and extracurriculars. Students who use their summers for tutoring and academic skill-building are usually grateful they did.”
Here, Pietrafetta shares a few key reasons why it’s essential to use those summer months productively. Read on for his best advice.
Combat summer learning loss
Common wisdom suggests — and this is backed by research, too — that students, on average, lose 25-30% of school-year learning over the summer. This year, that number is even higher.
“After a full year of remote and hybrid school learning, early research finds that students retained as little as 50% of their math curriculum from the previous year,” Pietrafetta explains. “So, the summer months are essential for getting ahead of the tutoring game by accounting for this potential increase in learning loss.”
These summer months give Academic Approach tutors plenty of one-on-one time to engage students in needed academic skill-building and do it on a timeline that balances rigor and relaxation.
Grab the (head)space
Finding time during a busy school year to supplement learning is a challenge; many students are focused—as they should be—on staying abreast of day-to-day assignments. While some students may be able to keep up with the workload, many are just grasping the fundamental concepts and aren’t able to dig to deeper understanding, Pietrafetta says.
“Summer provides some renewed energy and space to build on those fundamentals, especially when a student is working with a skilled professional and has goals for the tutoring,” he says.
With more time and available working memory, concentrated instruction during summer can have a profound and lasting impact, helping students internalize content deeply, which can render productive results during the school year and on standardized tests.
Build stronger outcomes
When students and parents ask for one piece of advice for doing well on college entrance exams, the answer is consistent: start early. Academic Approach’s data support this.
“It’s absolutely the case that students who start preparing for the SAT or ACT during the summer before their junior year double their academic growth,” Pietrafetta says. “Compared to those who wait until the spring of their junior year, these students show significant growth on their final official test. The secret is in the time they committed.”
By identifying high-impact gaps in skills, Academic Approach tutors maximize efficiency because they start with an accurate individualized profile of each student. Then, they work with students and families to deliver a fully customized curriculum with regular benchmarks in place to ensure they are meeting their growth goals.
“This level of attention makes all the difference to a student’s sense of self-assurance, and ultimately, their ability to perform well when it counts,” says Pietrafetta.
“In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the claim that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in something,” Pietrafetta adds. “It makes sense that the earlier students start building academic skills and preparing for their standardized tests, the better they perform.”
Schedule your student’s complimentary assessment with the experts at Academic Approach in Chicago’s Lincoln Park or suburban Highland Park, Winnetka and Clarendon Hills. Learn more at academicapproach.com.