Authored By: Ricky Vigil, After-school Program Coordinator
Summer is every kid’s favorite time of the year. Warmer days mean more time spent outdoors or in a pool, more time with their friends, and maybe sometime at a summer camp or on a family vacation.
Of course, the most important part of summer for kids is having NO SCHOOL! While it is necessary to take a break from the sometimes strenuous schedule of daily academics, it is even more essential to keep children and their brains active during the summer months so they don’t begin next school year at a disadvantage.
According to summerlearning.org, low-income youth loose about 2-3 months of math knowledge and reading proficiency over the summer. By the time students reach fifth grade, they can be 2 ½-3 years behind their peers in math and reading skills.
In Salt Lake County, we’re lucky to have a great library system which made summer reading a huge priority. Actually, at http://summer.slcolibrary.org/, library patrons can download reading records with activity ideas, bite-size readings (poems, etc), arts, crafts and more. For each activity completed, participants can record their process and be rewarded with a free book and/or with a ticket for a drawing that will get them into the Natural History Museum. The really cool thing about this challenge is there are separate trackers for adults, teens and kids, so the whole family can join and work towards their goals. Kids who read at a young age are more likely to continue reading as adults, and parents who lead by example will often see their kids engaging in reading as well.
Actually, the library is also hosting a variety of STEM Camps at various branches over the summer (http://www.slcolibrary.org/teen/teenaml/STEMcamps.htm) and is offering ZAP Summer Passports (http://slco.org/zap/kids-summer-passport/) where kids and families can enjoy some of Salt Lake’s Zoos, Arts and Parks at a free or discounted rate. The goal is to fill the passport and attend an end-of-summer party at the planetarium.
While every kid deserves a break, it’s crucial that they are still engaging in learning throughout the summer. Luckily, there are many great resources within our communities that can help them to fulfill that purpose.