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By Beverly Stewart, M.Ed.

Most students dream all year of summer. No school. No obligations. Just 10 weeks of carefree, happy days filled with sun and fun!

While that kind of freedom sounds like Shangri La to most kids, what they don’t realize is that an abrupt end to all academics can cause a serious “brain drain.”

According to the National Summer Learning Association, “Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students lose more than two months in reading achievement.”

So, how can smart parents combat this problem without taking all the fun out of their child’s highly anticipated summer break?

Many parents turn to summer camps. From space camp for the budding astronomer, to nature camps for the future biologist or entomologist, summer camps can pack a good deal of learning into a short time period. The problem is, camps are short (generally one to two weeks), not to mention sometimes costly.

Here are four easy suggestions for hands-on learning that will keep kids engaged all summer long, without breaking the bank!

  • Read: Reading well is one of the top five predictors of student success. And, reading aloud to kids is a proven motivator. Even older children who are reading proficiently on their own benefit from regular read-aloud sessions. Summer is the perfect opportunity to start a series – from The Magic Tree House for little ones, to Harry Potter for older students. Use the summer to see how many titles you can finish. Utilize the public library or book share with another family to keep this a free activity.
  • Explore: In the tri-state area, we are fortunate to have innumerable sites of historical value that can inspire kids’ imaginations and encourage a love of history. Make our nation’s military history come alive with a trip to Brandywine Battlefield or Fort Delaware. For the pirate enthusiast, try the DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum in Fenwick Island, the Kalmar Nyckel in Wilmington, or Zwaanendael Museum of Lewes. Or, visit the National Register of Historic places to see how many locations there are in Delaware  – a few may be right in your backyard! Many parks and sites are free or inexpensive to visit.
  • Create: Remember all of those Pinterest ideas you’ve been saving all year? Summer is the time to put those plans into action! From Paper Mache volcanos, to lemon launchers, to potato-powered batteries, these projects can spark a lifelong love of science. Many projects can be completed with items you already have around the house.
  • Learn: Sign up your child for a class or 1-on-1 instruction in a new subject. Is your child hoping to visit Paris? Take French. Tomorrow’s Picasso? Sign up for drawing or painting instruction. Taking a once-a-week class or session — with practice, practice, practice in between — helps extend the learning all summer long. And, after 12 weeks, your little star maybe conversing with a few sentences en Français or creating masterpieces!

These are just a few suggestions to get you started. But, you can also sneak in some learning on a daily basis: use fractions while baking, read a map while on a car trip, identify plants and flowers while gardening… the possibilities are endless.

Summer… it’s the perfect season for learning!

Excellence in Education since 1985!

Back to Basics Learning Dynamics is the undisputed leader in 1-on-1 tutoring in Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania for over 60 subjects. The company offers a unique Department of Education-approved 1-on-1 K-12 Private School in Wilmington, Delaware and a Delaware Business and Trade School for ages 16 and older. In addition, the company offers translating and interpreting in 16 languages throughout Delaware. Back to Basics is the winner of numerous awards for academic and business excellence including the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics.


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