Too often, summer's learning opportunities slip away, along with months' worth of hard-won academic skills from the school year. Research from the Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University shows that students typically lose one to two months of reading and math skills during summer break, the so- called "summer slide." Teachers often spend four to six weeks at the beginning of each school year re-teaching material that students have forgotten. Ron Fairchild, executive director of the center, wants to remind parents that summer learning doesn't have to be unusual or expensive to be effective. Traditional summer pastimes like trips to the beach and even routine trips to the grocery store can easily be made into learning experiences. Fairchild encourages parents to make the most of children's summer vacation with the following suggestions.
Find out what your child will be learning during the next school year by talking with teachers at that grade level. Preview concepts and materials over the summer.
Visit your local public library. Use this as an opportunity to read every day. Participate in library summer programs; make sure they're reading books.
There are many camps in almost every price range. Camps offered by schools, recreation centers, universities, museums, and community-based organizations often have an educational or enrichment focus.
Keep a schedule over the summer and help kids stay in daily routines.
Take educational trips, which can be low-cost visits to parks or museums; look into vacations with educational themes.
Summers are great for informal learning. If kids are interested in comics or computers, for instance, expose them to as much as possible that allows them to become a real student of their hobbies.
Practice math skills every day. Think about opportunities through cooking to learn fractions; consider trips to the grocery store as an opportunity to review math skills. Do measuring or track daily temperatures. Play educational games. The trick is: Make the day fun and motivating while giving kids serious opportunities to learn the skills they need.
Limit time with TV and video games, just as you do during the school year. It always makes sense to provide structure and limits. The key is providing a balance and keeping kids engaged.
Fairchild is available for interviews to share these and other summer learning suggestions. To speak with him, contact Amy Lunday at 443-287-9960. The Center for Summer Learning is online at www.jhu.edu/teachbaltimore/.
Go to Headlines@HopkinsHome Page