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Sandy Garrett's Column

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Summer break is in full swing and students likely have indulged in sleeping in and spending hours playing with friends.

That is wonderful. Summer vacations should be full of fun. However, they don’t have to mean a break from learning. In fact, they shouldn’t mean a break from learning.

Countless studies continue to show that children experience learning loss during the summer months, particularly students in low-income homes.

On average, all students lose about two months in math skills over the summer months. While upper and middle income students gain in reading skills during this time, lower income students experience a loss according to a study by Dr. Harris Cooper, professor of psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

A recent report from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, “The Learning

Season: The Untapped Power of Summer to Advance Student Achievement” shows that nonacademic experiences during the summer can support success during the school year, including higher grades and test scores.

Families can prevent a “summer brain drain” and help children enrich their learning skills during the summer by heeding a few low-cost suggestions adapted from the Center for Summer Learning:


Take family educational trips. These can be visits to parks, historicalor children’s museums, zoos and nature centers.


Practice math daily by measuring items around the house or yard.Children can add and subtract items at the grocery store and cooking (with adult supervision) is a good way to learn fractions.


Do good deeds together. Children learn better and “act out” less whenthey engage in activities that aid in their social emotional development, such as community service, maybe planting trees or cleaning up a park.


Enroll children in summer programs offered by local schools, recreationcenters, universities or community-based organizations.


Keep a schedule. Continuing daily routines will provide structure andlimits. This will provide a balance and keep young minds engaged.


Get outside and play. Intense physical activity and exercise contributeto healthy development and release pent up energy.

Also, providing plenty of reading material in the home and finding quality educational activities online are helpful to preventing summer brain drain.

Whatever you have planned, don’t forget to make the most out of the time you have together as a family. Here’s to plenty of fun and learning this summer!

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