Summer vacation is just around the corner and two months can be a long break from learning. On average, students lose the equivalent of two months of math and reading skills during the summer months. More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. Furthermore, about a quarter of teachers spend at least 1.5 months simply re-teaching material from the previous year. Work to change that this summer by using our top nine suggestions for activities you can give to your students & their parents to keep them engaged over those hot summer months.
Ways to Keep Students Engaged Over the Summer
- Daily Journal – have your students keep a daily journal recording their summer experiences – this will keep reading and writing skills sharp
- Summer Reading- Put together a suggested summer reading list. Reading is one of the easiest ways to keep a student’s mind engaged during a break from structured educational activities. Looking for advice on what to read? Hit up your local library. Many libraries have reading competitions that kids can take part in and offer reading programs that can keep your students busy for the entire summer break. Don’t have a local library in your area? Participate in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge online!
- Get outside and explore – a trip to the neighborhood park or a nearby forest can be a terrific learning experience. Have your students go into nature equipped with a book about flora and fauna
- Advance their education- Have your students visit a museum of art, history, natural history or science. Go to a zoo or aquarium. Many museums have one day or evening per week offering free or reduced admission. Take advance of museum education programs and classes like pottery, painting, fused glassmaking, bird watching, scientific experimentation or photography. Encourage their parents to enroll their children in any kind of class. Some kitchen stores offer cooking classes for parents and kids- together or separately. Have your kids try a new class like gymnastics, trampoline, karate, dance or music classes. The first class is often free and summertime can bring low attendance so it’s a great time to try new activities in different venues they haven’t seen before.
- Get Crafty– encourage your student’s parents to pick up a cookbook for kids from the library and have them follow an easy step by step recipe. Or, get them outside to construct a bird feeder. The sky is the limit, but the key is to have them doing something rather than passively watching television
- Participate in Summer Learning Events- Provide a list of summer learning events for your students. Check out this Summer Learning Day Event Map presented by the National Summer Learning Association for summer learning programs that allow your students to interact with others while learning. From summer learning challenges to reading days and educational camps, you can find educational opportunities for kids of all ages almost anywhere in the country.
- Learn online – there are a wide range of fantastic and free resources for just about every type of learner. Some of the most popular games that encourage creativity for younger children include drawing game SketchUp, building online with Lego Digital Designer or creating a digital flip book with FlipSnack. Additional free apps such as World's Worst Pet, Cargo-Bot and Rocket Science 101 can help your student brush up on their vocabulary, flex their brain muscles or even launch a rocket! If these examples aren't exactly what you're looking for, a simple search for educational apps in your App Store can provide more options.
- Volunteer Opportunities- Encourage older students to stay active in the community during the summer by volunteering for a local organization. Volunteering provides valuable experience by helping students develop leadership and job skills, exposing them to potential career opportunities, and helping them make their own professional connections within their community.
- Stay Active & healthy- In addition to academic risks, children can also be at an increased risk of weight gain when they are out of school during the summer months. Take advantage of the warmer weather and keep you active outdoors.
- Kidshealth.org – How do you feed a picky eater or encourage a child to play outside? Learn how to keep your child healthy with the right foods and exercise.
- Let’s Move! – Opportunities for kids to be physically active, both in and out of school and create new opportunities for families to be moving together.
- USDA Summer Food Program – This U.S. Department of Agriculture program provides free meals to all children 18 years old and under in areas with significant concentrations of low-income children.
Summer slide is a real problem, but by doing your part and encouraging your students and their parents to stay active and engaged, you can help your students turn the summer months into a fun, innovative learning experience.
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