How Summer Learning Can Prepare Your Kid for Back to School

Rachel Sew WQED Education Team
Rachel Sew WQED Education Team

Summer is a time of sun, fun, and no school! But just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean the learning should stop. During the summer months, learning loss among children, especially in low-income neighborhoods, can cause kids to fall behind.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, about two-thirds of the ninth-grade academic achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their more-advantaged peers can be attributed to what happens over the summer during their elementary school years1. Other studies have found that summer reading reverses the summer slide trend for more than half the children who participated in the study2. Reading is paramount in battling against the summer brain drain.

At WQED, we partnered with SHIM through our Education Department to offer a special learning week for 135 summer campers from SHIM’s Prospect Park Family Center. They participated in activities based on the PBS children’s program Odd Squad where they used math, science and other skills to solve mysteries and cases.

You can make summer an opportunity for your kids to catch up or get ahead and steer clear of the summer slide. Everyday moments can be learning moments with just a little bit of creativity!

Regular Trips to the Libraries
Libraries aren’t the dust-collecting places you remember. Children can borrow enticing books, attend cool summer sessions, learn how to code, and more. Let your child have a choice to pick something they’ll enjoy reading and soon they’ll be back for more.

Anything Food Related (no really, I’m serious)
Whether it’s eating out at restaurants, making dinner together, or going to the grocery store, kids can build math skills like counting, sorting, measuring, comparison, money, reading the menu, letter recognition – the list goes on! Food is also a great way to share some family stories and culture with your children. There’s a reason why they say family dinners are opportunities to bond.

Games!
Screen time is getting a bad rap these days, but PBSKids.org has tons of free games that teach math, reading, engineering, nature, social studies and beyond. Children can learn spelling with Princess Presto or the 50 states with Arthur and Buster.

Apps are another great option for mobile learning. PBS KIDS apps teach kids about everything, from planets and constellations with Ready Jet Go! to habitats around the world with Wild Kratts.

Old school games can work just as well to engage your children. Card games help with number recognition, Boggle is perfect for spelling, and Yahtzee for math.

Great Outdoors
Take nature or neighborhood walks to get kids observing and recording to build science and language skills. Put a tech twist on it with Plum Landing’s Outdoor Family Fun App with hundreds of tips to help talk about nature and missions to explore your neighborhood’s plants, animals, weather, and more.

Crafts!
Art encourages creativity and develops early engineering skills. Here are my 10 favorite back-to-school crafts.

With the end of summer upon us, I encourage you to work in some of these easy opportunities into your final summer days. Let’s send kids back to school ready to succeed!

By Rachel Sew, WQED Education Team


References
1. National Summer Learning Association http://summerlearning.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/SummerCanSetKidsOnTheRightOrWrongCourse.pdf
2. Read for Success http://www.rif.org/pdf/RIF-Read_for_Success-Results.pdf
Five Easy Ways to Sneak in Summer Learning http://www.pbs.org/parents/expert-tips-advice/2016/07/five-easy-ways-sneak-summer-learning/