The Summer Slump: Can Video Games Minimize the Imminent Slide?

It is said that most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in reading and mathematical computation skills over the summer months, according to Think Stretch. Harvard Graduate School of Education says it’s even higher when it comes to math, reporting  on average students lose approximately 2.6 months of learning in math over the summer — and teachers have to give up weeks of class time, or more, to make up for that loss.

These alarming statistics have educators and parents alike concerned over the “summer slump,” a very real and legitimate concern impacting students of all ages. While there is something to be said for R&R over the summer, the burden placed on teachers and students when they return in the fall is a big one. This epidemic has grown so large it spurred the launch of an organization known as National Summer Learning Association.

What can parents and educators do to help lessen the degree of summer learning loss? When it comes to reading, it’s not uncommon for middle and high school kids to be assigned required reading. The trick is to work it into your routine and not wait until August for a massive reading cram session. For elementary school kids, local libraries are a great source for summer reading programs with all kinds of incentives. Again, the key is regularity.

Repetitious math practice and even maintaining strategic and creative thinking skills can be a bit more challenging. Take-home study guides and workbooks can be helpful for math but require a lot of discipline and may too closely resemble homework, which doesn’t seem remotely interesting to kids on a break from school.

Have you considered video games? Chances are kids are already unwinding on their computers and in front of their game consoles, so why not introduce some academic games into the mix? Specifically, educational games that mirror the interactivity and creative elements of entertainment games are a great way to motivate them and change up their focus.

Variant: Limits, our calculus game, engages students in challenging math concepts while empowering them to have fun in the process. The game brings calculus to life in a 3D environment where students and players find themselves on an imaginary planet facing imminent doom – that is, unless they can solve a series of increasingly challenging calculus problems to save the planet from geomagnetic storms.

ARTé: Mecenas, our art history game, immerses students and players in the 15th and 16th century Italian Renaissance where they commission works of art as a Medici banker. They read through the intriguing story line, weigh their options and make decisions to balance relationships with powerful city-states, merchant factions and the Catholic Church or risk excommunication, exile and bankruptcy.

Games can deter the summer slump for a variety of ages. Younger kids might enjoy Diffission by Filament Games, a fractions learning game aligned to Common Core standards where they learn by slicing through deceptively simple shapes, manipulating swap and dissolve blocks, and earning the coveted title of Diffissionist.

Reach for the Sun is another Filament game for kids to hone their strategic thinking and decision-making skills aligned to Common Core and Next Generation Science standards. Players grow their plant from a seedling, defend it against insects and help it struggle through the seasons to pollinate and produce flowers. They learn about photosynthesis and the way that seasons relate to plant life cycles as they try to keep their flower alive and thriving until the end of the year.

Students have told us time and again they are having so much fun playing our games they often forget they are learning. Failure in the game doesn’t seem like failure in the subject as they actually look forward to analyzing new strategies and trying new paths to advance. To them it’s not homework, it’s a game. Now, if that isn’t a remedy to combat summer brain drain and inspire active learning on those hot June, July and August days, I don’t know what is!

Variant: Limits and ARTé: Mecenas can be purchased online at https://store.triseum.com/.

For a complete list of Filament’s games, visit https://www.filamentlearning.com/products.