In the late 1800’s, school schedules were set to allow students to help with the spring planting through to fall harvest. Schools also lacked air conditioning, so the summer break became ingrained in our national educational culture. Kids everywhere look forward to a three month summer break each year, but what educators now realize is that the long break negatively impacts learning. According to the Clearinghouse on Early Education and Parenting, summer break causes a one month learning loss each year.
A few schools have instituted year round calendar, but in many places the idea of year round school is met with resistance. To counter summer learning loss, schools provide summer reading lists and communities offer summer learning programs. If you worry about keeping your child’s mind sharp and education going, there are ways to make summer learning fun.
Book Adventure (www.bookadventure.org) is a free online program that has a huge list of books, all sorted by reading level. The program is modeled on school Accelerated Reader programs. Children read books from their local library and take online quizzes for points. Points can then be traded for prizes such as bookmarks, temporary tattoos and subscriptions to Highlights for Children Magazine.
The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program is a free program that rewards kids for reading with free books. Kids can read any eight books, write their favorite parts on a special tear sheet and redeem the sheet for free paperback books from a preapproved list. During the 2006 program, Barnes & Noble gave away 190,000 books and kids read over 2 million books
In addition to online or corporate programs, local libraries often have free summer reading programs. The American Library Association began a summer reading program in 1890. Prizes are awarded for reading and summer story time and craft activities are offered to get kids excited about coming to the library. The Collaborative Summer Library Program has developed the theme, “Get a Clue at Your Local Library.” New York, California and thirty four other state library associations will be using this theme as a follow up to last year’s successful “Paws, Claws and Scales” program.
Summer is a time of fun and relaxation, but learning and reading programs can be a part of the fun. It is easy to get your child involved in summer learning. Summer learning loss isn’t inevitable, but can be minimized or eliminated by participating in a summer learning program.