As summer vacation approaches, one thing that concerns me is summer learning loss: studies show kids lose over two and a half months of math skills and around one month of skills in other subjects over the long vacation period. As much as I want my kids to have their well-deserved break, I know their minds need at least some exercise to keep from experiencing that brain drain. My son often struggles in math as it is, for example, so I know he’s in danger of falling behind if he has nearly three months with no practice! I’ve started looking into options for summer tutoring programs to help keep those skills where they belong, and I’ve found that there are several different avenues to explore when looking for a summer learning program.
- Public schools. If your child attends public school and struggled during the school year, he may be eligible for summer school or tutoring programs through the school district. If he failed a class, summer school may actually be required for promotion to the next grade. Programs of this type are usually free. Even if your school doesn’t offer a summer school program that suits your child’s needs, the guidance counselor may be a valuable source for information on local programs, so check with her first.
- Colleges and universities. Do you live in a college town? Check into their summer programs and workshops. Many colleges offer summer enrichment programs for kids, lasting anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks.
- In-home tutoring. This may be a good option if your child is struggling with one subject in particular. Again, this might be a good time to check the local colleges – a student majoring in education or in the particular subject your child needs help in might be a perfect fit, and there are no shortage of college students who need summer jobs. Alternatively, there are tutoring agencies you can use who will match one of their tutors to your child’s needs. If that’s too pricey, check local community organizations for programs that match volunteer tutors to struggling students.
- Learning centers. These may be a good fit for the child who is struggling with several subjects, has special needs or performs better with a structure similar to being in school. There are hundreds of different learning centers, so take some time to shop around and find out which one is the best fit for your child.
- Online programs. This might be a good option for a self-motivated child who really wants an academic challenge over the summer. And of course, online programs are generally easier to fit into the schedule if you have a busy family with a lot of summer activities planned. If you choose this route, your options are as broad as the World Wide Web… there’s something out there for every skill level, interest, and budget.
With or without a summer learning program, don’t forget that you are the most important resource your child has to help him keep learning over the summer. Make sure to read together, explore local museums or historical sites, and play mind engaging games together… it will help keep both of your brains active and alert.