Students tend to forget during the summer what they learned in school, but there are ways to help keep their skills sharp, educators say.
For instance, research indicates that students who read books that aren’t too easy or hard for them can improve their skills while on their summer break, according to a Wyoming Department of Education media release.
Students and their families can also make use of a few new state and Casper-area summer educational programs along with a host of annual opportunities.
The state education department is offering new, free online summer reading and math programs that tailor books and activities to students’ abilities. The programs use students’ state assessment scores so the activities offer the right amount of challenge. For example, the math program includes emails sent to parents that provide math activities suited to their children’s skills and needs. The department partnered with a company called MetaMetrics and the Council of Chief State School Officers to offer the programs.
Julie Magee is director of the Standards, Learning & Accountability Division at the Wyoming Department of Education. She compared practicing math and reading skills to staying in shape by regularly going to the gym.
“If you take the whole summer off,” Magee said, “sometimes you’re even starting at point zero again.”
The branches of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming are offering a “Home Run Reading Program” this summer. Children will read and play with the Casper Cutthroats baseball team and win prizes for reading. Those who hit a “home run” by completing the entire program will be recognized at a game.
“It’s just our way of combatting summer learning loss and to also inspire a lifelong love of reading,” said Jessica Baxter, the program advancement coordinator for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming.
Additionally, the four Casper area club sites offer numerous summer activities including field trips to all museums in the city, Baxter said.
The clubs serve many students who need summer learning programs most, Baxter said.
Mark Mathern is the associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction for the Natrona County School District. He said much of summer learning loss is attributed to a lack of experiences that keep children’s minds active. Children can learn new information, such as vocabulary through everything from education and recreation programs to family outings and trips, he said.
Summer also provides many opportunities for children to learn and bond with parents through routine activities such as car maintenance and gardening, Mathern added. Those activities can involve math, science and reading.
“The brain has to figuratively sit up and pay attention,” Mathern said.
Many Natrona County School District students will also will participate this summer in a program for elementary and middle school students called JumpStart, said Chris Bolender, who administers the program.
Most district schools have scheduled three-week sessions of their own design, as part of the program. Activities range from field trips to bringing in Denver Zoo guests, said Cynthia Guthmiller, program facilitator for the state grant that funds the program.
“The whole idea is to keep them engaged, keep them thinking about math and English as being part of their lives and making sure that they don’t fall behind before they go back to school in August,” Bolender said.