Keep kids learning in summer for succeeding in fall

Summer brain drain. Summer learning loss. Summer slide. Whatever you call it, important skills and concepts learned during the school year are slipping away during the long, hot, splish-splashing days of summer. Catch them quick before anymore evaporate!

The non-profit National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) has a charming tagline that aptly describes the situation: “smarter summers, brighter futures.” They sponsor the annual Summer Learning Day, which this year was July 12, which they describe as “a national advocacy day aimed at elevating the importance of keeping kids learning, safe and healthy every summer, ensuring they return to school in the fall ready to succeed in the year.”

Results of a literature review conducted and reported by Brookings last year noted significant skills loss over the summer. David M. Quinn, assistant professor of education at University of Southern California, and Morgan Polikoff, associate professors of education, University of Southern California Rossier School of Education, in an article titled “Summer Learning Loss: What Is It, and What Can We Do About It?” report that the authors of the review concluded that: “1) on average, students’ achievement scores declined over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning,” and that “2) “declines were sharper for math than for reading…”

And in terms of the latter, this past winter the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), in an article by Robin Berlinsky, cited a survey conducted by the National Summer learning Association, which suggest students lose two months of math skills during the summer months.

Of course, it’s not just about “book learning” in the summer. As an NSLA public service announcement suggests “Every young person deserves a great summer, a chance to learn and explore on their own terms. Maybe it’s building robots at a local museum, discovering nature at a nearby park, creating art, or getting lost in a book. Whatever they choose, help kids avoid the dreaded summer slide.”

Eric Rasmussen, Ph.D., writing for PBS Parents, in article titled “Beating the Summer Brain Drain,” echoes the idea that summertime learning can take many forms. For example, he sets this scene: “It’s a warm summer evening, and your child says the two words you dread the most: ‘I’m bored.’” His answer? “You look at the local TV listings and find that Nature or Wild Kratts will be on in an hour. You use that as a motivator for your child to get showered and ready for bed. And then you can spend a quiet h our together on the couch, watching a science-based show and learning about tigers, hummingbirds, or volcanos.’”

A super opportunity for keeping kids actively learning this summer is by entering the Brain Gain sweepstakes. Enter between July 17 and July 29 for a chance to win these great prizes from School Zone and Brackitz: Pulleys 77-Piece Set, Bedtime Alphabet Interactive Flash Cards, a BIG Hidden Pictures Workbook, and a Level 2 Start to Read!® Set.

Families on the go will find supplemental learning materials that travel well, also useful. These include products such as School Zone’s flash cards and Little Busy, iTry, and Activity Zone workbooks. Anywhere Teacher, an online learning destination, also sizzles in summer, as a single subscription allows access from any type of handheld device or computer with an internet connection, siblings can share an account simultaneously, and favorites remain available away from home. Kids ages 2-8 get powerful online learning wherever they are—anywhere, anytime.

Similarly, Animal Alphabet Pop-Up Flash Cards will help keep little ones amused and learning in the car or at the cottage. Children will love connecting each letter to each of animal pop-up flash cards. They can then connect the letters with 26 animals of the alphabet. E, for example, is for Elephant. In addition to helping improve phonics skills, a preschooler’s or kindergartner’s imagination will be stimulated by these alphabet/animal flash cards. What will pop up next?

The long, hazy dog days of summer are here--the days that the ancient Greeks noted coincided with a period when Sirius “the dog star” rises at the same time as the sun. They are known for being hot, low-activity days, a bit lazy if you will. But William Shakespeare, in one of his sonnets, noted that “Summer’s lease hath all short a date.” In a blink of an eye, a new school year will be underway. Make sure that kids relax and unwind but also keep learning, growing, and practicing skills.