5:55AM BST 29 Jul 2013

 Figures show that as many as 27 per cent of families plan to pay academic coaches to stop sons and daughters aged five to 11 going backwards over the long summer holiday.

Just days after millions of children broke up from school, it emerged that many other parents are investing in extra revision guides, literacy and numeracy phone apps and online courses to keep children’s minds active.

The disclosure comes just weeks after Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, suggested that the traditional six-week summer holiday should be cut back because of concerns that pupils are lagging behind harder-working peers in the Far East.

According to the latest study, the cost of tutoring had become a barrier for some parents, with many being expected to pay up to £40 for a 45-minute lesson.

The research – by an online tutoring website fronted by TV presenter Carol Vorderman – found that private school children are currently twice as likely to be sent to a tutor over the summer as state-educated counterparts.

Some 56 per cent of those from the independent sector are set to receive coaching this summer, compared with 21 per cent of those from state schools, according to the survey of 1,000 parents.

Miss Voderman said: “What happens during the long six-week break is that if nothing is done, children’s academic skills regress by three to four months. They don’t just stop and pick up where they left off at the end of term. They go backwards.”

Maths was seen as the most important subject for summer tuition among parents, with fears that many struggle in the subject themselves.

According to the survey, 13 per cent of parents admitted to being “useless” at times tables, while more than four-in-10 said they had to rely on a calculator to do basic sums.

Miss Vorderman, the former Countdown host who has advised the Conservatives on maths education, added: “Knowing your times tables inside out is essential for being able to move on to most other things in mathematics including division, fractions, decimals, percentages and algebra.

“If children can master these, it will help them in their primary and secondary schooling, as well as through life.”

Duke University- August 28, 2006

Beware the summer slide—not the spiraling, thrilling water chute found at your local water park, but the loss of academic skills during the summer months. Math skills often slip the farthest, with students losing an average of 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in computational ability over the summer. In addition, students score lower on standardized tests administered at the end of the summer than at the beginning. How do you prevent these skills from slip-sliding away? While parents may not be able to halt all summer learning loss, there are many ways to reduce it.

  • Set aside time for reading, and consider forming a summer book club with your child.
  • Engage your child in fun writing projects, such as keeping a journal about his or her summer vacation or writing letters to family, friends, or a pen pal.
  • Seek out enrichment programs in your community. Check with museums, colleges, and universities for offerings.
  • Emphasize math skills by helping your child manage his or her own budget, practice fractions through cooking activities, or discover how math plays a role in a favorite sport (i.e., baseball batting averages).

The key is not to let the summer become a holiday from constructive learning but to view it as an extended learning season—a time to explore special interests in depth, develop new hobbies, have fun, and perhaps even take an exhilarating plunge down a state-of-the-art waterslide!

Kristen R. Stephens, PhD