Common Obstacles Adult Learners Face Over the Summer and How to Overcome Them

Written by Julie Slack, First Literacy Marketing and Communications Director

tips-for-adult-learners-to-overcome-common-obstacles-faced-over-summer-first-literacy-blogSummer in New England is a treat. The warmer weather often brings beach days, BBQs, and a break from the daily grind. For adult learners, summer may also mean a break from classes, which can be a good reset; but it can also create challenges and obstacles in the fall when it is time to return to the classroom.

So how can adult learners soak up the sun and recharge over the summer, while avoiding a setback come September?

Here are some common obstacles adult learners face over the summer and tips to overcome them.


Distractions can be a challenge year-round, but during the summer it can really be hard to keep those shiny objects from throwing you off course.

“Spending time with your kids, playing outside, going for walks, travelling—all great things, but ultimately are distractions from trying to achieve your goal of earning a HiSET or GED,” says Kelly Folsom, Instructor and College Transition Specialist at X-Cel Education.

Combat distractions by reviewing your goals often and posting them somewhere you will see them every day. Rather than letting a distraction pull you completely off the rails, try listening to a book while enjoying a walk on the beach. Audio books are easy to find via Audible or can be borrowed for free from your library. When relaxing by the pool take the opportunity to practice language and literacy skills in a way that’s enjoyable – reading for pleasure.

Lack of Support and Motivation

During the school year the classroom can start to feel like a small community. Group projects, studying with other classmates, and learning with peers can create a support system that is not always available and accessible during the summer months.

“Over the summer, students typically don’t have the benefit of teachers or other program staff providing regular support, nor do they have classmates motivating them to work hard and come to class,” says Andrew Shapira, ESL Teacher at Framingham Adult ESL Plus.

Keep the momentum going during the summer break. Consider working with a tutor or participating in summer programs and workshops offered through libraries, schools, and Adult Basic Education organizations. Make an effort to stay connected with classmates and teachers over the summer. Ask teachers for recommended resources that will help you continue learning when class is not in session.

Difficulties Accessing Technology

Online tools can be a great way to keep learning over the summer and continue practicing what you’ve learned throughout the school year, but online tools often come with their own set of challenges.

“Some learners may not have tech devices or access to the internet for online resources,” says Huiling Chen, Program Manager at BEST Hospitality Training Center.

Don’t let technology hold you back over the summer. Local libraries offer free access to computers and the internet and some loan out devices like iPads. Some universities and colleges also offer laptop loaner programs during the summer.

Charitable organizations can be a resource as well. For instance, in 2022 First Literacy was awarded the Reimagine Grant from the PWC Foundation. The grant made it possible to provide laptops to those current First Literacy scholars who needed them.

Enjoy Your Beach Days While Staying the Course

Distractions are inevitable, finding motivation can be a struggle, and technology can be as much of a blessing as a curse, but tackling these obstacles over the summer is possible. A little determination, the right resources, and incorporating learning into your summer fun will help you stay on track and prepare you for a successful school year in the fall.

July 6, 2023

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