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How to Avoid Winter Academic Slide

Losing academic skills and knowledge during winter break means headaches for going back to school. Read on to learn how to avoid this without sacrificing any fun.
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How to Avoid Winter Academic Slide
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The loss of important academic skills throughout the winter break is called "winter academic slide," and it can be a real headache when you get back to school. 

Winter brings the holiday season, family gatherings, and new beginnings. The long nights and colder weather mean lots of cozying up and dozing by the fire, so it’s no surprise that academics are often the last thing on your mind. 

The good news is that you can avoid it, and here’s how:

Learner is a trusted place to connect students who are looking for math tutoring with online tutors, so we have a lot of experience helping students who need a tutor for all sorts of reasons; this includes avoiding the winter academic slide, which is important to do as it ensures that you don’t have to worry about being retaught things you’ve already learned. 

What that means is that you can focus on enjoying your winter break without worrying about going back to school!

What is the winter academic slide and why does it happen?

Nothing compares to the relief that a break from school brings, especially when it’s a nice long one like during the winter. But those days and weeks away from the structure and routine of school can lead you to coast, lose momentum, and forget skills and knowledge you learned before break. 

Even though winter break isn’t as long as summer break, the lack of educational activity you experience can mean that your short and long-term academic success is compromised. This is especially true of subjects like math and science. 

Like with anything, if you don’t practice it, revise it, or really even think about it, then your brain is going to categorize it as pretty useless and clear it out to make space for things you do care about. 

This is because our brains are thought to have two primary memory systems: short-term (or working) memory, and long-term memory. 

Your short-term memory is designed to hold information that you’re currently thinking about, but it’s temporary (we’re talking a few seconds here), and if you don’t need it anymore, your brain tosses it out. Important things, however, can be committed to long-term memory. 

Your long-term memory is very good at storing information with a surprising amount of detail, but it can't remember everything you've ever learned and done. Therefore, your brain will let go of whatever you don’t use, find interesting, or practice. 

The secret to avoiding the winter academic slide

The winter academic slide is natural because breaks are often synonymous with doing nothing, but that doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be your reality. 

Academic slide can have a negative impact on both your short- and long-term academic journeys, but it can also cause you to be unhappy. Imagine having to relearn things you technically already know, along with the frustration of feeling lost in a topic you may have had no problem with before. 

The way to avoid all of that without sacrificing a great holiday is to keep your brain active. 

It’s all about keeping your brain engaged and challenged. The most important thing to realize is that you don’t necessarily have to be learning during break in the same way that you do in school. You don’t need to focus on always studying and memorizing things. You can actually learn in many different and fun ways. 

Some things to try are:

Going to a museum, botanical garden, gallery, or historic site

All of these locations will amaze you with their beauty, history, or information. You might even discover a new passion. If you can’t or don’t want to visit such places in person, there are also online options, such as the Disability History Museum or the Smithsonian Learning Lab.

Visiting the library 

Not necessarily to study (although feel free to do so!), but for a cozy reading spell instead. Reading is a great way to relax while keeping your brain switched on.

Making dinner for your family

Challenge yourself to learn a new recipe and execute it well with as little help as possible. Cooking requires a lot of planning, dexterity, and multitasking, so it's a great mental workout.

Having a family (or friend) game night

You might be surprised at how challenging game nights can be, especially with the right games. Keep your brain active by playing games that catch your fancy.


Journaling can be a really fun way to keep track of what’s going on in your life, how you’re feeling, and what your goals are. It’s also nice to be able to look back on things. Journaling helps with memory but is also an excellent creative activity.

Fun ways to keep fit and active

It's important to stay active in the winter to keep your mental and physical health in good shape and to keep your brain active. There are tons of fun ways to keep active in the winter. If you don’t mind the weather, wintery walks can be lovely. There’s also skiing, sledging, ice-skating, ice hockey, and more. If you’d rather stay inside, then you can try Pilates, yoga, or just some stretching. 

It’s important that you find balance during your winter break. Find time to be active, get outdoors, and eat the right foods. Enjoy screen time, but don’t overdo it. If you’re struggling with certain subjects or topics in particular, make sure that you work on them to get a head start before you head back to school.  

Using the winter break to stay on top of things with Learner 

You may also find that some subjects, like math, are hard, confusing, or just plain impossible to learn during the winter. If that’s the case, then winter break might be a good time to look for a tutor in addition to making time for all of your fun activities. 

Learner has a lot of tutors with different areas of experience, areas of expertise, and ways of teaching, so you can be sure that you will be able to find a great match. Whether you’re looking for help with test prep or certain topics like geometry, calculus, or trigonometry, there’s a tutor that’s perfect for you. 

What’s even better is that it’s all online, so you don’t have to worry about trekking to a tuition center in the middle of winter. Instead, you can cozy up with a mug of hot chocolate in your favorite spot at home, all while making sure that you’re getting the help you need. 

There are many benefits that come from working with a tutor from Learner, such as:

  • Experienced tutors who have taken the time to master their pedagogical expertise and have a proven track record of student success (before they even join our team)
  • A wide variety of tutors, with plenty of options for any of your learning needs. You might need a tutor for algebra, find a great fit, and then love them, but then need help with another subject like kinematics. If they can’t help you, then it’s easy to swap over to another tutor without any hassle on your part. All tutors use the same teaching platform, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
  • Sessions created for you. Our tutors approach each lesson as a collaboration between parents, students, and themselves. They have all the tools and information that they need in order to address each student’s individual needs. You can read more about what to expect from an online tutoring lesson here.

These are just some of the many benefits that you can expect from working with a tutor from Learner

How to choose the right tutor for you 

As a unique individual, you’ll have a certain learning style. The right tutor for you will have a teaching style that will ensure you get the most out of every session. That’s something that’s different for every student and tutor pair.

There are some qualities that all tutors should have, however, such as:

  • Expertise
  • Experience
  • Patience
  • Organization

Learner’s tutors have all of these qualities and more. They’re what allow our tutors to have such success with their students—and you can enjoy that success too! If you’re looking to beat the academic winter slide and master math, then don’t hesitate to find your tutor now so you can get the head start you need.

Get started with a custom-matched tutor for your child.

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About the author:

Mike developed his passion for education as a math instructor at Penn State University. He expanded his educational experience launching and running an Executive Education business - training over 100,000 students per year. As the CEO of Learner, Mike focuses on accelerating learning and unleashing the potential of students. 

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