Keep kids engaged to help narrow achievement gap.
School's out, and many children and teens soon will be involved in camps, family vacations and other activities that are both fun and educational. But for many lower-income kids who don't have those same opportunities, the three-month summer break only puts them further behind academically.
In fact, studies show that summer learning loss widens already significant learning disparities between affluent white students and economically disadvantaged students of color. Research demonstrates that many lower-income kids lose as much as two months of progress during the summer.
At the same time, middle-income students actually gain a month or two because their summer activities -- museum visits, vacations, camp, etc. -- support and expand what they learn during the school year. In a single summer, that difference can put poor kids four months behind when school starts in the fall. Over 13 years, lost summer learning can put children years behind.
To help young people retain more of what they've learned, the city of St. Paul and the school district are offering smart, free or low-cost suggestions for families.
They've teamed up to develop a five-point, easy to remember "Summer Countdown'' to keep the learning going during summer vacation. On a simple-to-navigate website, they recommend that throughout the summer all children have: five days a week of active play, four new places to visit, three fresh fruits and veggies daily, two summer projects, and one time a day with a good book.
At a loss for ideas? The site lists dozens of free activities, ranging from concerts to museums to classes at home-improvement stores. There are also suggestions for questions to use to turn fun excursions into educational opportunities.
The helpful advice can be found on the city's Sprockets website -- a year-round city effort to connect families and kids with constructive out-of-school activities. While the website is intended for St. Paul students, the suggestions to boost summer learning can work for families anywhere.
To check out the countdown program go to sprocketssaintpaul.org.
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