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Helping Kids Stay Sharp This Summer

Kids love summer vacation, but teachers dread the learning loss students experience without regular reading and learning over the summertime. Children can fall three months behind academically while school is out, especially if they lack great books, good nutrition and active engagement in learning at home.

Here are easy tips for parents, caregivers and even older siblings to follow to help young students stay on track, even while they’re on vacation:

  • Just read. Help your child read any and everything of interest to them. Let them see you reading every day from simple things like the signs on the street to labels on your food. Here are some great books for tweens and younger children to read this summer. Parents and caregivers are also encouraged to take advantage of programs like The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge – a FREE, online reading program designed to help students turn the “summer slide” into a “summer leap” by discovering the joy and magic of reading for fun.
  • Visit a library. Libraries have more than books. You can use technology and sometimes see a performance or do fun projects with other kids.
  • Do math wherever you are. During the summer, students can lose two months of math skills. Count the steps on the escalator at the mall. Turn a grocery trip into a math lesson, calculating coupon discounts, or whether sale items really are a good deal.
  • Be active. There are lots of free learning opportunities in public parks. United Way’s Born Learning Trails feature age-appropriate activities and games on engaging signs placed along a trail and help create learning opportunities for a young child. Find a Born Learning Trail near you.
  • Take care of bodies, too. Healthy foods are brain food, so keep nutritious snacks around the house. Kids might have tons of fun at camps and other summer events, but it could make them tired by the end of summer. Keep a routine bedtime, even if it is a little later than during the school year.
  • And my favorite, volunteer together. Volunteering exposes us to new people, places and ideas – all good for keeping the mind sharp. And it builds skills for life! Contact your local United Way to learn how to attend and support summer learning events in your community.
  • And lastly, celebrate National Summer Learning Day - 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. Check out the National Summer Learning Association for more information and fun ideas for summer learning!