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10 Ways to Keep Learning Going This Summer

Are you looking to provide enrichment activities for your students this summer? In need of ways to support remediation? Fortunately, summer provides the time that there never seems to be enough of during the school year. Here are ten ways to support your students' families and keep learning going this summer.

1. Learn About Programs at Your School

COVID relief funding has provided many schools the opportunity to create additional programming or enrich current programs for the upcoming summer and school year. This may look like extended after-school programming, additional or expanded summer programming, and added extracurricular activities and clubs. Learn about the programs offered at your school, or nearby schools, so that you can keep your students' families up to date. They are much more likely to take advantage of these opportunities if they hear about them from more than a newsletter or flyer sent home in their child's backpack. An added benefit of participating in school-sponsored programming is the opportunity to interact socially again with students who attend the same school.

2. Take Advantage of Reopening: Museums, Parks, etc.

Many organizations and facilities have already begun the reopening process if they are not already open. Institutions across the country are easing up on restrictions, which provides more opportunities for exploration. Not all learning is done inside the classroom. The enrichment that students can gain from visiting museums, parks, aquariums, zoos, and historical sights in their own town can be extremely beneficial. Encourage your students' families to take a few days this summer to go somewhere new and continue learning.

3. Read, Read, Read!

It doesn't matter if they're outside enjoying the beautiful summer sun or cozied up inside on a rainy day. They could be visiting the local library to borrow books, reading ones that were bought at a store, or sitting on a shelf at home. The key is just to read, no matter what that looks like. A tried and true strategy is to assign a summer reading challenge to your incoming class and provide prizes for the top readers when they return for the school year. Getting families involved in the competition can bode well for student buy-in as well. 

4. Set Aside Time for Learning

Encourage families to support their students' continued learning through summer by getting a workbook or activity book at their level and setting aside a certain amount of time each day for them to work on it. You can also provide these activities and packets if you'd like. Just a small amount of practice each day—10 or 15 minutes—throughout the summer will allow students to reinforce learned skills from the school year and set them up for success in the fall.

5. Encourage Creative Writing

We ask students to write every day in school, and yet it is the least favorite activity of many school-aged children. Encourage children to write creatively over the summer. This can look like writing a story that is of interest to them, keeping a journal, or writing about trips or activities they got to do each day. The more students have chances and reasons to write, the more comfortable they become with putting their thoughts on paper. When they return to school, they will be more willing to express themselves in writing when tasked.

6. Set Up Pen Pals

Go a step beyond encouraging creative writing and set up pen pals for students. In the era of COVID, it can be a safe way for students to continue interacting with each other over the summer and also work on writing skills. They will be excited each time they receive a letter and can practice their reading skills as well! They may even return to school in the fall with a new best friend.

7. Engage in Authentic Learning Opportunities

While not necessarily skill-related, encourage parents never to pass up a chance to engage students in authentic learning tasks. Whether it's planting a garden, building something, fixing something that's broken, cooking a meal, or a simple trip to the grocery store, learning can occur anywhere. The more students can expand their horizons, the more excited about learning they become. It is also a great opportunity for students to learn real-world skills that will benefit them long after graduation.

8. Create Games

Encourage students to create their own games this summer. Many valuable lessons are associated with playing games—following rules, critical thinking, strategy, cooperation, teamwork, and humility in winning and losing. Students will not realize they are practicing necessary school skills and learning along the way, but they will be better for it when they return to the classroom in the fall! It's also a really great way for them to make memories over vacation.

9. Don't Forget About Art

The benefits of art are undeniable—encouraging imagination, honing problem-solving skills, and stress reduction. No matter which medium kids are engaging in, whether it be painting, sculpture, or music, art is an important activity to incorporate into students' summers. Taking time to create can provide kids with all of the benefits listed above and allow them to explore the process of creation. 

10. Fuel Passion

Summer is a break from the prescribed curriculum, content maps, and grades. It allows students all the time in the world to explore the things they are passionate about that core requirements can sometimes ignore. Do what you can to encourage this. A student who is passionate about something can find meaning throughout their school journey. Activities one is passionate about can turn into a career further down the road or provide a healthy outlet to cope with stress in life. Giving kids the opportunity to explore the things they like also makes them more likely to read, research and experiment with things that excite them.

Just because it's summer vacation doesn't mean learning has to stop. But it also doesn't mean parents have to go out of their way to create elaborate lessons for their kids. Encourage meaningful, subtle, and fun educational trips and activities for families. There are plenty of ways for your students to keep learning outside of the classroom—help families find those ways.

Written by Jackie Sugrue

Education World Contributor

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