Summer Gives Kids New Ways to Learn

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Summer is a time to make learning informal and fun. File photo

School’s out, but the learning can keep going all summer.

New York State United Teachers suggest several ways for parents to help children maintain their academic edge over the next two months.

“Whether they’re out riding bikes or inside making crafts, every activity presents a learning opportunity for children this summer,” NYSUT president Andy Pallotta said in a news release. “Learning is about more than reading a textbook or filling out a worksheet. “… (S)lipping learning experiences into your vacation is a great way to keep your kids’ minds sharp — and have fun as a family.”

Research has shown that some students can lose a month or more of academic progress during summer vacation, with low-income students disproportionately affected. Other studies have shown that summer learning programs can have positive effects on students.

A 2011 study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that one in six children who don’t read proficiently by third grade fail to graduate on time from high school, a rate four times higher than that for proficient readers.

“Even on a rainy summer day, cracking open a mystery novel or performing a kitchen science experiment with your kids are perfect ways to show them that learning doesn’t have to stop when school’s out,” NYSUT executive vice president Jolene DiBrango said in the news release.

To help avoid the summer slide, NYSUT suggests:

  • enrolling children in summer programs through school districts or community recreation programs.
  • reading as a family. Talk with your child’s teacher or a librarian about developing a summer reading program with your child. Agree on a set number of grade-level appropriate books to read and get the whole family involved. The National Education Association, an affiliate of NYSUT, offers resources   on how to find the best books for your child. The state Education Department also offers a Summer Reading program through local libraries across New York.
  • having your child keep a daily journal. Help him or her stay on track by monitoring his or her efforts.
  • turning daily activities into learning opportunities by making your next visit to the grocery store a math lesson, or turn your next walk through the park into a science exhibit.
  • learning locally by exploring parks, museums, libraries and historical sites.