Today is the first day of summer and kids have enjoyed the initial weeks of summer break. School and teachers, book reports and math tests are long forgotten and replaced by baseball games, picnics, swimming, camping and other activities. But don’t let summer fun put your kids on the summer learning slide. According to the National Summer Learning Association, learning loss during the summer months is common. Here are some statistics from their website (www.summerlearning.org):
- Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains (Cooper, 1996).
- More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college (Alexander et al, 2007).
- Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children—particularly children at high risk of obesity—gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break (Von Hippel et al, 2007).
- Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do (Duffett et al, 2004).
So what do we do to keep our kids educationally engaged during the summer without making them feel as if they are still in school? Many everyday activities can be learning opportunities. Note these simple ways to reduce your child’s “mental downtime” and allow them to have fun while learning in a new way:
GROCERY STORE GAMES – Have them calculate the bill as you add things to the cart. Have a nutritional scavenger hunt to locate items for each category of the food pyramid and talk about how those foods benefit the body. These activities allow them to use math skills and learn health and nutrition tips.
FAMILY VACATION FUN – Let your kids research the locations you plan to visit and then create trivia questions about your destination. Learning fun vacation facts about the places you are about to see are a great way to spend the drive! You can also calculate the mileage from stop to stop and create a map of your travels or total the cost of gas for your entire trip. These are great ways to add math, history, and geography to your travel plans.
JOURNAL IT – Have your kids record their summer activities each week for a fun source for that “How I Spent My Summer” back-to-school assignment. They can also write their own story about summer fun. This will keep them engaged in reading and writing during the long break and help them develop their own writing style.
READ – Of course the Library Foundation encourages reading! Reading is an easy, enjoyable way to keep the brain engaged and stimulated. Reading for pleasure can turn kids into lifelong learners. Allowing kids to choose books according to interest and at an appropriate level also builds their self-confidence while improving vocabulary and comprehension. Studies show that recreational reading during the summer months helps kids score higher on reading achievement tests during the start of the next school year.
The Library Foundation’s TAKE 20 and READ initiative along with the Library District’s annual Summer Reading program are two great ways to keep kids reading. Take the pledge to read 20 minutes each day at www.take20andread.org or complete a pledge form at the library. Go to a library to sign up for Summer Reading and enjoy the benefits and prizes of both programs. Summer reading runs through August 3. TAKE 20 and READ is a year-round program to enhance literacy in our community.
Visit the library for additional programs and resources to help keep kids engaged during the summer months and keep them off the summer slide! Connect with any of the 12 branches of the St. Charles City-County Library District at www.youranswerplace.org.