• OT June July 2013
  • Executive View

    Summer Learning and Fun Can Boost Core Curriculum Skills


    School’s out for the summer. Now kids - and parents - can relax for a couple of months, right? In theory, that’s the case. But the reality is that learning is a skill, and like any skill, it can be lost if not reinforced continually. Summer is a great time for parents, schools and the communities to offer students a chance to bridge a learning gap, get ahead, maintain skills and explore new ideas and areas they want to learn more about.


    According to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Summer Learning1, “all students experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.” Not only that but “on average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills during the summer months.”


    Here are 10 suggested tips for summer learning that school leaders can recommend to parents/legal guardians in their districts.


    Tip #1: Read, read, and read. Help the children read books that are of interest to them, and for the avid reader, encourage some "just for fun" reading. The local library is a great resource.


    Tip #2: Reinforce math in daily life. We use math all the time, whether we realize it or not. The summer is a great time to get children involved. Bring him/her along on shopping trips and have him/her calculate savings or count money. Reinforce percentages by helping the child calculate the tip at restaurants. Teach fractions while baking. Or encourage the child to set up a lemonade stand. Some searching on the Internet will provide some other ideas. Education World is a good place to start.


    Tip #3: Use technology to teach. Technology is everywhere, and chances are you’re not going to eliminate it this summer. But you can embrace the kinds of technology that promote learning.  Limit TV and video games and encourage safe, parent-approved educational websites.


    Tip #4: Stock up on puzzle books, word searches, brain teasers, etc. Keep some puzzle books in the car for long rides, and others at home to fill moments of boredom.


    Tip #5: Take learning on the road.  There’s nothing better than an experience to expand a child’s horizons - plan day trips to the local park, museum, zoo or other venue. Have the child find the site on www.mapquest.com, determine the route and estimate how much the excursion will cost. Encourage the child to take photos and put together a scrapbook of interesting facts about the trip.


    Tip #6: Do a community service project. The summer is a great time to teach the child how to give back to the community. Help him/her research the opportunities in your community.  United Way is a clearinghouse for many local community needs. Choose a meaningful project that the whole family can do.


    Tip #7: Plan at least one hour of physical activity a day. It’s not all academic. Incorporate some physical activity into children’s summer, at least one hour a day. This may include swimming, biking, walking or a more formal community sports program. Physical activity has positive effects on academic achievement, including increased concentration and reduced disruptive behavior.


    Tip #8: Enroll your child in a summer program. There are summer programs in every price range. This is a great opportunity for children to explore a special interest, from drama to sports to art and more.


    Tip #9: Consider a tutor for academic support.  If the child has a learning gap, summer is the ideal time to catch up. There are a variety of sources for tutoring services. These include current and retired teachers, National Honor Society high school students, and some community centers.  


    Tip #10: Allow for some unstructured time. “Down time” is ideal for encouraging creative thinking. This can include playtime with friends or by oneself, and gives kids a chance to fill their time in ways they enjoy.


    Summer enrichment is so important to the success of our students that, at NJASA, we advocate for community support for low-cost educational programs. One source is the National Summer Learning Association, an organization that serves as a network hub for thousands of summer learning program providers. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America also provide much-needed programming in underserved areas. We encourage you to support programs like these that make a real difference in the lives of today’s students and tomorrow’s future leaders.