Kid Connection: Summer is a time for learning | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Kid Connection: Summer is a time for learning

Karen Houser
Special to the Tribune

Summer, and all the fun that it brings for kids, is fast approaching. However, due to summer learning loss, many of our kids are at risk of returning to school losing one to two months’ worth of learning. As a result, they begin the school year without the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. According to the National Summer Learning Association, summer learning loss accounts for about two-thirds of the ninth grade achievement gap in reading. Low-income students are especially hard-hit.

Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children-particularly children at high risk of obesity gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break.

Research shines a light on the solution: engage young people in high-quality, enriching, fun, and focused summer programs. These programs help them stay engaged in learning during the summer, teach them new skills and encourage them to explore new experiences and find unseen talents. Numerous studies show that summer learning opportunities improve academic outcomes for youth. Many of the encouraging findings show that students attending summer learning programs improved their grade-level vocabulary skills; improved their reading ability and attitude toward reading; enhanced the effectiveness of their academic work attitudes, habits and abilities; increased their overall interest in returning to school and readiness to learn; enhanced their social skills and relationships with adults and peers and strengthened their ability to make new friends and get along with other children; and made a smoother transition from elementary to middle school.

The critical factor in the success of keeping kids wanting to come to summer programs is that they must be fun and age-appropriate. Doesn’t every child deserve a memorable summer? One that is filled with enriching experiences like trips to museums and art galleries, the beach, the library, competing in a spelling bee contest and visiting the Indian Grinding Stone?

Young people can have so much fun learning about other cultures, creating artwork, learning their lines for a play to be performed in front of their parents, or learning to play the ukulele and drums. Going to the farmers market and learning about healthy food choices and learning the role of staying active and fit can help our kids maintain a healthy body, and be fit for all that life has to offer. Participating in summer programs that increase their self-esteem and confidence, getting to express themselves through art, music, and poetry — these are all activities that quality summer programs have to offer. All of this adds up to brain gain, not brain drain!

To ensure that all youth in kindergarten through eighth grade have access to reading this summer, the Soroptimist of Tahoe Sierra are providing a book to 3,300 LTUSD students to read during the summer!

The Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe offers a summer program for youth ages 5-18. The program has a focuses on making sure kids are safe, have fun and are engaged in enriching and meaningful programs throughout the summer. To learn more, visit http://www.bgclt.org.

— Karen Houser is the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe.


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