Plan now to prevent summer learning loss

Recognizing that keeping children interested in learning and engaged throughout the summer is a significant need, NIA Community Services Network launched its "In the Zone" summer day camp to create a safe, fun and educational setting for children. Soon to begin this year at two new locations, "In the Zone" will offer fun and learning this summer. These camps all have limited space, so we encourage parents to register children soon. Parents can learn more by clicking on the picture to the left and by reading the article below that details the importance summer learning has on children's educational progress.
Excerpted from an article by Sue Hornof that appeared on

Research has shown that children experience learning loss when they do not participate in educational activities during the summer months. According to the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) – a network hub for thousands of summer learning programs nationwide – research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation that they do on the same tests at the beginning of summer. In fact, students can lose about two months of instruction, particularly in the areas of reading and math computation, when they are not in school.

How can parents keep their kids from experiencing summer learning loss and still allow them to take a break from the rigors of the classroom?

Many educational experts advise parents to give their kids a head start by checking with teachers about curriculum for the upcoming school year and planning summer activities around it. For example, if fractions are on the lesson plan, spend time cooking together and let kids do the measuring. If possible, plan a family vacation that ties in with a topic that will be covered in history or geography, and have kids keep a travel journal. Encourage children to read age-appropriate books that relate to topics they will be studying in the upcoming school year.

Following are other suggestions for preventing summer brain drain:

• Enroll in an academic camp.  “Academic camp” may sound like an oxymoron, but when kids are learning about something they are interested in, learning is fun. There are academic camps tailored to many topics, including foreign language, science, computer technology, astronomy, digital photography, environmental studies, video game design, and just about any other topic a child might want to explore.

Additionally, learning centers that offering tutoring or enrichment programs year-round often offer summertime academic camps in reading, writing, math, etc. Kids typically learn in small groups, and material is presented in a way that is rewarding and fun.

• Check out local library programs. The St. Louis County Library offers summer reading clubs for various age groups and also has a chess club for children and families.
• Spend a week or two at summer camp. According to the NSLA and research conducted by Karl Alexander, a Johns Hopkins sociology professor, intentional summer programs – like camp – help stem summer learning loss by providing experiences that challenge children, develop talents, keep kids engaged and expand horizons in “nature’s classroom.”

“There are thousands of summer camps across this country, and each one of them is a piece of the solution to summer learning loss,” said Peg Smith, American Camp Association CEO. Children stay engaged and continue learning at camp.”

• Incorporate reading, writing and math into daily activities. Have kids write out the grocery list, read recipes aloud, measure ingredients and count silverware. When in the car, play games that require reading billboards, maps and guidebooks; have older kids calculate the gas mileage on the family car. At restaurants, ask kids to read the menu and determine what the total meal will cost; then have them figure out how much to leave for a tip. Play board games and card games that require reading, math and logic skills. Have kids calculate their basketball free throw percentage when practicing in the driveway. Play a game of hangman with sidewalk chalk. Download educational games to the iPad and computer.

Rosa Casella, Executive Director

"Summer is a great time to explore learning and new interests in a fun and relaxed way. Fall will be here again before we know it so use the summer wisely — get in the zone at NIA's summer day camp, have fun and never stop learning."