As kids, the thought of "summer learning" probably evoked eyerolls and groans, but now, as adults, we recognize the many benefits that summer learning has for all students.
But what exactly is summer learning, and why is it so important? While there are many different types of summer programs offered by schools, libraries, community organizations and others, all are in agreement that the goal is to provide students of all ages the opportunity to avoid the "summer slide" and learn something new while having fun and making friends. The learning loss students can experience in the summer, also called the "summer slide," happens when children don't engage in educational activities during the summer months – something many summer programs hope to change.
National Summer Learning Week, previously observed as National Summer Learning Day, takes place from Monday, July 10, through Friday, July 14, and is an annual celebration dedicated to elevating the importance of keeping kids learning, safe, and healthy every summer, ensuring they return to school in the fall ready to succeed and take on the school year.
How else can we stay active and involved during the summer months? There are many great suggestions for students of all ages through the U.S. Department of Education, the National Summer Learning Association, National PTA, PBS, and more. For example, with younger kids, take a trip to your local library and creating a summer reading list, or encourage kids to think outside of the box with arts and crafts to stimulate creativity. For high school students, thinking about and preparing for college, developing and updating resumes, or volunteering can be productive ways to keep their minds active and engaged during the summer.
There are many ways to take advantage of programs and resources offered in the summer months to students and their families, not limited to summer programs. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Summer Food Service Program is a federally funded program that provides free meals to children so they can receive the same high-quality nutrition during school vacations that they get in school during the school year. The USDA's Summer Meals Site Finder can help you find locations throughout the Commonwealth for students 18 years and under to receive a nutritious, hot lunch free of charge.
Curious to find out more about summer programs available near you? Check out the National Summer Learning Association's Discover Summer tool, a search engine designed to help families find summer programs in their area. Another great place to find summer programs is your local library! Libraries often offer a wide variety of free programs and activities for learners of all ages.
Here at the PA Department of Education, we've had lots of fun checking out summer programs. Recently, PDE Executive Deputy Secretary Angela Fitterer got to try her hand at making some oozy, foamy volcanic slime with students, and just last week Secretary Dr. Khalid N. Mumin got to try out some new hip hop moves at a summer enrichment camp. What fun memories are you making this summer at your local summer programs? Share photos with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter!