Summer Learning: Keeping Kids Engaged
Counting down the days until the last bell rings and the hallways (and now online classes) have emptied has become a time honored tradition for K–12 students. The end of the school year marks a pivotal time to celebrate students’ achievements, while transitioning to a brief period of respite before ‘leveling up’ to the next grade in the fall. As kids prepare to kick-back and enjoy some well-earned time off, there is a contrast to the hustle and bustle of their daily ‘school life.’
Is it important to continue ‘learning’ in the summer?
What can families do to keep kids mentally sharp from June–August?
How can technology help to bridge the summer learning loss?
Summer learning loss refers to the widely accepted fact that students lose academic ground when out of school over the summer months. There is inconsistent research, however, related to just how much kids revert (on average) and what the long-term impact is on their overall academic growth. So why focus on learning over the summer? Is it really as important as some claim it to be?
According to the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), “Students who fall behind over the summer are less likely to graduate from high school or go on to college.” Perhaps even more discouraging is the fact that the gap continues to widen as students grow up. Nonprofit research organization NWEA reports that “summer learning loss increases with age through elementary and middle school” and is “a troubling trend that should be examined further.” These and others are sobering data points warranting parents’ consideration of integrated at-home learning activities when school is out of session.
Greater Access to Individualized Learning
While outdoor play and exploration certainly have their merits—and often occupy a large portion of kids’ time in the summer—technology remains an excellent vehicle to continually expand young ones’ minds, especially outside of the classroom setting. Its accessibility and on-demand consumption mean that learning can happen anytime, anywhere, and often for free or at very low cost.
There are apps to teach kids how to create, build, measure, design, develop and explore.
Digital communities in areas of special interests offer kids a chance to share their discoveries and creations with one another.
Websites abound that offer free online software with fun, interactive games to practice math drills, vocabulary words, coding exercises, foreign languages and other content-based activities.
Also, there are virtual field trips, videos and other multimedia channels for students to explore different themes, topics and parts of the world they would otherwise not have the opportunity to over the summer.
The bottom line: ‘learning’ is not synonymous with brick-and-mortar schools, classrooms and the traditional education system. Learning happens every day in both formal and informal ways.
Turning Boredom Into Opportunity
How many parents have heard their kids say ‘I’m bored’ within the first few weeks of summer break? This is emblematic of the long, yawning stretch of plan-free days, and ultimately, of summer learning loss. And the answer to addressing this issue is not to build arduous, structured learning expectations or experiences for kids.
Instead, one solution is to leverage technology to inspire kids to learn creatively, in topics that are of interest to them while they enjoy down time in the summer.
This will not only help them academically, but also it increases individual agency in the learning process. It will motivate kids to explore the areas that resonate with them, thereby enabling them to create a personalized pathway. The self-esteem that arises from such efforts is more than a fleeting bonus.
Every experience is an opportunity for growth—both inside the walls of schools and beyond.
Teaching your kids that learning is a cyclical, ongoing process that will help them in all facets of life will serve them well now and for years to come; showing them how technology can be a powerful conduit for such learning will only offer greater access to their dreams.
Please join us to learn more in the next #futureofschool Twitter chat on Thursday, June 27th at 6pm EST.