Keeping Up While Laying Back: Keeping Kids Learning During the Summer

Practical websites that will keep your child at the head of the class, even when school is out.

As I found myself running down the hallway, my hand open and swatting in a fit of rage last night, I realized that it was almost time for summer break.

No need to call social services, there wasn't a child in my sights, (yes, that is what some of you adults-still-recovering-from-childhood-spankings were thinking), it was a mosquito that was causing me so much aggravation. 

In the south, just as the red leaves ring in fall and yellow pollen signals the beginning of spring, pesky flying and stinging creatures tell us that summer is approaching.  With summer comes other little beings, not quite as pesky, that will also buzz and flutter around the house, in search of a restful place to land...children home on summer vacation.

While summer camps satisfy the need for outdoor adventure and fun in many families, it is important that parents also use these valuable weeks of summer to keep the kiddos academically engaged.  According to a recent Huffington Post article  by Jennifer Peck on the effects of summer learning, "Studies...show that a lack of summer learning and enrichment opportunities leads to "summer learning loss" -- a loss in academic skills and knowledge during summer vacation.  Summer learning loss, which is cumulative over time, widens the achievement gap between low-income and middle-income students and increases student drop-out rates."

Indeed, the notion that learning stops in May and begins again in September has been quite the controversial conversation in my mommy circles over the past few years.  In the book "Outliers," by Malcolm Gladwell, (which I humbly believe should be required reading for all parents), the author states, “For its poorest students, America doesn’t have a school problem; It has a summer-vacation problem.”  Putting numbers to the idea of the summer learning slide, The National Summer Learning Association says on it's website, "Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months."  It's important to note that they did not say most poor students, public school students, black students, white students or inner city students....they simply said, most students...which includes yours and mine.

Two months of math learning loss?  That means, that from 1st grade through high school, a well educated child from a middle class background could potentially fall two years behind in math, simply by not practicing their skills over the summer!  I can hear a few moms through the computer saying "Oh heck no," and trust me, I'm giving you a virtual high five!

So after a full hot summer day of running, playing and swimming, why not wind down with the websites below and help keep your child at the head of the class.  Be sure to also ask your school librarian, counselor and teacher for passwords of websites where your school may have an account.  These websites provide a stable launching pad for more hands on learning during the break.  Start with them, but please don't end with them.  

Learning is a lifelong passion, let's keep kids engaged all year round! 

Science:  Want to get a jump start on next fall's science fair project or map out the stars in the summer sky?  Check out these websites.

Math: Find out if you are smarter than a 5th grader, or 1st grader or 12th grader at these math websites.

Global and Social Studies:  The world truly is at your fingertips with these exciting sites.

Reading and Writing:  A strong foundation in reading opens up the world to students.




Shantel alphabet May 11, 2011 at 03:38 PM
I Love it Tammy!!
Tammy Garnes May 11, 2011 at 07:16 PM
@Shantel - Thanks so much. I believe a part 2 is in order for next week. So many wonderful sites out there...so little time!
Tammy Garnes May 11, 2011 at 07:16 PM
Do you have a favorite education website? I would love to know about it for my next Mom's Corner article!
DocNina May 12, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Tammy; Thank you so much. Always searching for kid-friendly sites, easy to navigate, AND educational. Looking forward to checking out this resource list. Fortunately, at least one of my kids doesn't mind doing homework. It's actually more work for me just putting it all together!
Leslye "JOY" Allen June 07, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Great article! Ms. Garnes I also want to make you aware of another great children's program--it's not a website, but it is relatively new to the Atlanta area: It's called The Atlanta Music Project. Visit: http://atlantamusicproject.org to learn more about it. It will be worth your time--promise!!


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