General Education

Why You Should Consider These Summer Learning Programs for Your Child

Why You Should Consider These Summer Learning Programs for Your Child
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Kathryn Hazelett, JD, LLM profile
Kathryn Hazelett, JD, LLM June 2, 2015

Learning isn’t just for the school year. Check out these ideas to keep your child's brain active and building new skills during the slow summer months.

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Many of us may fondly recall the song School’s Out for Summer and the summer fun that it represented: sunshine, ice cream, and long days at the pool and park. Summer seemed like a time for exploration, for fun, and for giving your brain a break.

These days, our idyllic views of summer have undergone a transformation. Studies have shown that long summer breaks can have a significant impact on learning, and can result in learning loss, which can compound year after year. So, rather than being a time for lolling in the sun, summer should be a time when children are studying the sun (or any other subject they love).

Why We Need Summer Learning

According to the National Summer Learning Association, “all young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer." That rather startling claim, coupled with the knowledge that parents “… consistently cite summer as the most difficult time] to ensure that their children have productive things to do" leaves many parents searching for [enriching summer program option.

Given the climbing rates of working parents, families increasingly need safe, fun, and intellectually stimulating places for their children over the summer. Some also have children who would benefit from deeper study of one subject or another so they can be ready for the next grade level.

Summer Learning Options

# Summer School

The first places to look for summer learning options are also the most obvious — your local school and school district. While some schools may require summer school for students who haven’t met promotion standards, others offer enrichment programs or bridge programs that prepare high school students to take AP or college-level classes in the fall. For example, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) offer eight different enrichment options, including programs in partnership with other organizations across the city. Check with the schools in your district to see what options they offer.

# Summer Camp

The variety of summer camp options for kids means there’s a place for any kid to explore her passions. There are overnight or day camps; local or international programs; academic, athletic, or artistic camps.

_Still have questions? You can ask experts directly about summer camp._

# Libraries and Parks

Schools aren’t the only place that offer educational programming for students in the summer. Local libraries often offer classes, workshops, and readings geared toward students. For example, the New York Public Library has a Summer Reading Challenge in which families can find great books for kids, keep track of reading progress, and participate in free events.

There is also the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP), which operates in all 50 states and seeks to “provide high-quality summer reading program materials for children, teens, and adults at the lowest cost possible for their public libraries." This summer’s theme is Every Hero Has a Story. Visit your local library to find out what’s available for your caped crusaders this summer.

Another place to find programming is at your neighborhood parks, which often offer outdoor educational events to people of all ages. For instance, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department hosts tons of programs for kids — from puppet shows to art workshops to a Kids Summer Festival.

# Activities at Home

Along with these away-from-home resources, there are also <a href=" and activities for children of all ages. One of my favorites is online learning tools, which offers up a math problem (with a great background story" target="_blank">Bedtime Math each day. Common Sense Media has a great list of apps, games, and websites on topics from tinkering to geography and all points in between with suggestions for ages 2–17. I ce The summer is a great time for students to hone skills that may not be taught at school, and online learning is a wonderful medium for them to do this. Older students can explore websites like Khan Academy, Coursera, and Skillshare to find online courses — ranging from computer programming to graphic design — to occupy their summer months. Younger kids can explore sites like Tynker (to learn programming) or PBS Kids (to find videos and games about different subjects).

Complementing the apps and games with fun activities can fully engage children of all ages. For instance, you can couple an astronomy app with a night of stargazing to see the Big Dipper. That great superhero story may occasion a cape and some agility exercises at the park. A summer concert or song-creation app can be coupled with a construction project to create your own musical instruments using items from around the house.

Summer learning can happen with a bit of planning and research mixed with a splash of imagination. Summer can still be a time for fun and exploration — just think of your front-row seats for those summer concerts!

_Check this Noodle series on Sneaking Learning into Everyday Life for more ideas!_


2015 Program: Every Hero Has a Story (2014). Retrieved April 17, 2015 from the Collaborative Summer Library Program

Alice Cooper- School's Out For Summer Lyrics. (2015). Retrieved April 20, 2015 from AZ Lyrics

Bedtime Math (2015). Retrieved April 17, 2015 from Bedtime Math

Chicago Public Schools Summer Programs (2015, January 12). Retrieved April 17, 2015 from the Chicago Public Schools

Know the Facts. (2009). Retrieved April 20, 2015 from [The National Summer Learning Association] (

Summer Learning Guide: Best Summer Ever (2015). Retrieved April 17, 2015 from Common Sense Media