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Prevent Learning Loss: Use these Research-based Strategies

For many years, researchers have warned us of the learning loss that occurs when students are not academically engaged. It’s a loss that increases with age as children progress from elementary through middle school. At Summer Solutions, we specialize in preventing learning loss through these research-based strategies:

Retrieval practice is one of the best ways to cement learning. It simply requires forcing ourselves to call to mind what we’ve learned. This can be done with flashcards, multiple-choice questions, crossword puzzles, online games, and more. Need ideas and material? Use these free Math Resources for grades K through 8.

Spacing is studying information in small bits over time. It’s the opposite of massed practice, or “cramming.” A short time after learning, we begin to forget—and that is the perfect time to revisit the material and practice again.

Interleaving is alternating among several different types of problems during a single practice session. In mathematics, interleaved practice forces the student to evaluate each problem and decide how to solve it. Want to see what interleaving looks like? Download free math samples for Pre-K through Grade 8 here and here.

Retrieval, spacing, and interleaving work for students of all ages, from Pre-K to adult. Combining the three strategies strengthens memory and increases long-term retention more than any other approach.

Tips for Using the Strategies at Home

Establish a routine and stick to it. This helps students in many ways. It ensures they get daily practice and the feedback they need to be successful. For example, practice with sight word and math flashcards; ask your child to practice reading aloud or to summarize a book chapter. Do these things every day or on the same days each week.

Let students know how and why the strategies work. Gain more buy-in by helping kids understand how their brains learn. For older students, here’s a lesson that can help.

Keep the practice low stakes. Retrieval practice is practice, not assessment. Provide daily opportunities for self-testing, but make sure students know it’s okay to make mistakes. When errors occur and are corrected, learning happens.

Encourage a bit of productive struggle. Remembering what was learned may be hard at first, but doing the work yields the learning. When students struggle a bit, they are strengthening memory. The skill or concept will be easier to retrieve the next time they try.

To learn more about retrieval practice, spacing, and interleaving, visit

Digital Is Not Always the Answer!

Summer Solutions workbooks allow students to get the practice they need so that they can continue learning all summer long. Ordering is easy and the books are sent directly to your house.   Order today!             

About the author

Nancy Tondy

Nancy is a former elementary teacher and gifted intervention specialist. She joined Simple Solutions in 2005 as co-author of the original English Grammar & Writing Mechanics series, and today, she manages our Writing Team. Outside of work, Nancy enjoys cooking, movies, biking, and travel.

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