The idea of summer learning can be hard for many students and parents when learning during the school year is a challenge. Whether the learning happens at a summer camp or at home, it is important to start planning now.
Summer camps can be a great way to help bridge the achievement gap with students. January begins the registration season for many summer programs and camps. Yes January! Families that wait until May or June may find it very difficult to find learning programs for their child. Research supports that academic summer programs provide students with enormous opportunities to grow in key academic areas.
Do academic summer camps make a difference? Many parents are concerned that camps claim to help students but parents often question if a five-week program can actually help their child who is two or three years behind. One study looked at the impact a summer program made on middle school students who were academically behind (Somers, et al, 2015). They focused on providing students in a voluntary camp environment support with academic instruction in Math and English, educational field trips and guest speakers. The results indicated that students gained math skills over the summer and would return to the fall with about a month’s difference in math skills. These types of studies continue to validate the need for summer learning for our children.
Many schools are creating summer programs to help students gain career knowledge within the STEM world- science, technology engineering and mathematics. Ortiz et al. (2018) found that students who attend these types of programs do gain more knowledge and understanding of careers that are options for students in these fields. Summer learning has the ability to help students to discover occupations and careers that they were not exposed to during their normal academic settings.
Practical application Ortiz et al. (2018) study also revealed that students enjoy learning through projects like building rockets or robots and watching the actually work. Group projects and hands-on learning help many students connect the academics and the reason for learning with actual careers.
Tips for Summer Camps
Tip- Start looking early. January is the best time to start looking for registration dates and camp fairs. Many local centers will have summer camp fairs.
Tip- Get your child involved. What type of camp would they want to be a part of ? Help them to figure out how to use their summer.
Tip- Map out the whole summer. Plan for every week of the summer. Between free activities, paid camps and community festivals you can have an entire summer of learning planned for your child.
Tip- Free is good. Many colleges, schools and non-profit organizations will offer free programs. Check out the camp literature and brochures to determine the quality of the program.
Summer Learning Tips Early Learning and Elementary Age at Home
Tip- Go a grade ahead. Summer learning workbooks and material should be about the content your child is going to learn not what they have already learned. The goal is to get your child ready for the next grade.
Tip- Dollar stores. Stock up on learning material for the summer during back to school time. Usually you can find learning materials at dollar stores or retail stores that sell school supplies.
Tip- School supplies. Try to have summer learning school supplies on hand. Workbooks, dry erase markers, color pencils, scissors. Keep the leftover school supplies from the school year that your child did not use.
Tip- Use online websites and resources online to print free material. There are plenty of websites that offer free worksheets or learning material you can print at home.
Tip- Ask the teacher. Many teachers will create a summer packet of extra work if a parent asks for it. Teachers recognize the need for students to have summer learning material and will often give parents options to receive a summer packet.
Summer Learning Tips Middle School and High School Age at Home
Tip- Go to the school website for curriculum. Most schools post the curriculum for the next year for older students. Make sure your child is reviewing current up to date material for the upcoming school year.
Tip- Work ahead. If your child is studying Algebra next year, then summer reading should be focused on learning Algebra or reviewing Pre Algebra. The goal is to have your child be ready for the material they will review in the new year.
Tip- Use current textbooks. If your child did not finish a textbook, then start from where they left off before heading into new material. Make sure your child has a good foundation with the material learned in the current year before moving on to next year.
Tip- Let them choose. Summer reading can be tough for any student. Letting them pick their own workbooks or reading books can help them engage in the process.
As a mom of a Mensan, summer learning happens every summer. I usually have a folder that has schedules for both of my children for every week of the summer. I map out who will be attending what programs and the costs. My children will see the summer calendars posted up by the end of the school year. I post each month up so they can see what is coming up each week.
Saving for camp also starts in January for me as many programs cost about the same as sports camps or childcare. I have found that a little early planning helps my children to be able to attend the camps and programs that they are interested in.
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