Five Summer Learning Activities to Head Start Student Success

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Summer is finally here! That means a few months respite from all the homework folders, reading logs, and school newsletters parents have to check every day. Sadly, it’s also a time when many students forget some of what they’ve worked so diligently to learn. The good news is that there are many hands-on summer activities for parents who want to give their children an academic boost. Even students who excel in their studies could benefit from a refresher before fall rolls around.

I know what you’re thinking: “No way am I going to try to get my child to do schoolwork during summer break!” But don’t sweat; all of the activities listed are kid-approved. We also made sure the ideas are relevant and have been shown reap legitimate academic rewards. We know how precious your time and money truly are.

1. School District Summer Camps

The very first Summer Programs were started by colleges. Hoping to bring incoming freshmen up to speed before the fall semester, these workshops taught time management, study skills, and math/reading/writing reviews. Now, public school districts are catching on and offering similar programs to younger students. Many parents still don’t know about bridge activities, or they don’t take the opportunities because of the stigma associated with summer school. But Summer programs are not just for struggling students; it’s a great way to give all students the coping skills to handle the upcoming school year.

2. Summer reading at your library

Next on our list is a reading program that, thankfully, won’t cost you a dime. Libraries have really stepped up their game in the past few years, offering a wide variety of summer events, such as:

• Themed reading lists
• Storytime for young children
• Video competitions
• Library slumber parties
• Literacy and movement workshops
• Reading to therapy dogs
• Reading Buddies
• Adult reading programs (Compete with your child to see who can read the most books!)

Designed to accommodate multiple learning styles and grade levels, these fun (and free!) activities are sure to boost your child’s reading prowess for the new school year. After all, the best way to become a better reader is to read more books!

3. Bridge Workbooks

Hold up. Workbooks sound boring! But fear not, because summer workbooks are designed with a more laid-back feel to them than the schedule-bound textbooks of school. Many of these resources include fitness and outdoor exploration activities to go with all the flash cards and problem-solving work. So if you’re not into searching for dozens of individual worksheets and exercises, a handy, pre-planned workbook may be the route you want to take.

4. Online Learning

Need a more time-flexible option? Busy parents may want to invest in an online summer learning program. A variety of courses at different price points exist, such as Brain Chase, The Electric Company, and K12, just to name a few. When choosing a program, compare the reviews of other parents, plus the other elective options offered. Some programs emphasize sports, foreign languages, or music. If you have an older student, your child can even earn high school credits, which could take some pressure off during the regular school year. Most websites will include sample materials, so download and try them out before making your decision.

5. Integrated Sports/Fine Arts/Learning camps

Your child wants to get moving and hang out with friends. You want them to gain better study skills. But if you have to choose between sports, the arts, and core curriculum, there’s not always room in the budget for so many camps. That’s why the National Summer Learning Association has taken an initiative to marry academics with the hobbies your children love.

You can find great NSLA-approved Camps at places like…

• Tutoring centers offer robotics, computer programming, study skills, and reading, and algebra camps, just to name a few.)
• Public schools –For a fee that’s much less than many similar camps, a lot of gifted and talented programs are building camps for their students that are interest-based. Gardening, web design, and study skills are some of the many topics your students can explore. All of them are taught by certified teachers and are usually required to blend movement and play with traditional learning.
• Private schools have built their brand of interest-based learning camps. Examples include ESL enrichment, entrepreneurship for teens, creative writing, and coastal/marine biology.
• Parks department STEAM programs- STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math. (STEM programs also exist, with all but the arts included.) More and more schools are encouraging their teachers to get STEAM certified and build great summer programs. Just run a simple web search for “STEAM program (your city)” to find out if there is one already in progress.

Make this a summer to remember by exploring some of these great bridge options with your child! So many options are easily found via the Internet. You can also save time by searching with our EdFinder to locate some of the resources available in your corner of the world.

Best wishes to you and your kids!

-Heather Turley


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Heather A. Turley

Heather A. Turley is a former fine arts educator in the state of Texas with ten years of teaching experience. She holds an MFA in creative writing for media from Full Sail University and a BFA in theatre arts from Abilene Christian University. Heather has and produced several children’s plays, and has written fine arts and physical education curriculum for children ages 2 – 18.