By now, we are all well aware of the “summer slide”. Research has consistently shown that kids lose more than 2 months of instruction over the summer if they do not practice learned skills. This learning loss is greater in math and happens to a larger extent in the upper grades. However, this year is unusual. This year, the majority of the 56 million school children in the United States will be out of school for a much longer period than normal due to COVID-19 school closures. For one in three children, school has stopped entirely as preliminary findings (in Los Angeles) have shown that about 1 in 3 children are not participating in online learning. In addition, as of April, about one-third of states had offered no official directive requiring online learning or a plan for instruction. The result of this has been major gaps in the learning opportunities available to students based on where they live, their individual teacher, or the school that they attend. Many teachers and school districts have worked tirelessly to set up remote learning plans with varied results and degrees of effectiveness. In total, children have missed up to 30 percent of their school year. This substantial loss of academic time is expected to have a significant impact on academic achievement. However, just like always, the way that parents respond matters.
Usually many students participate in summer activities such as attending a summer camp, visiting a museum, or going to a performance. These activities, even if they are not primarily focused on academics, provide opportunities for engagement that may help to fight the summer slide. With distancing measures in place across the country many children will have difficulty attending traditional summer camps and programs. Many parks, organizations, and colleges have canceled their typical summer programming. Even though you may not be able to do your usual summer learning activities, you can duplicate many of these experiences from home. In this spirit, Parrish Learning Zone will be offering a variety of summer webinars, workshops, camps, and enrichment at various price points (including free) virtually so that students can attend from home. Find out more here. Here are a few additional ideas on how it may be possible to explore and learn without taking so many trips to crowded locations this summer:
Virtual Museum Tours
Many museums offer virtual tours where kids can explore exhibits from home. Here is a list of 17 famous art museums that you can tour from your living room! Interested in space exploration? You can also take a virtual visit to NASA’s Langley Research Center here and Glenn Research Center here. Want to learn to fly a plane? You can tour the National Museum of the United States Air Force here. Wish that you could visit the Smithsonian? Take virtual tours here.
Take a Virtual Field Trip
Want to visit the International Space Station, a dairy farm, a volcano, the zoo, or Mars without leaving your house? Click here for a list of virtual field trips with links to “visit” each unique location. Wish you could travel the world? Take these guided tours of various locations around the globe with Smithsonian experts.
Virtual Concerts for Kids
Are you missing live music? The Lincoln Center is offering a variety of free virtual concerts for kids. The Kennedy Center is also offering virtual events for young audience members. Here is the listing of virtual events.
Now, more than ever, kids have an opportunity to learn with and from celebrities and experts online. Kids can read a book with Michelle Obama, Levar Burton, or Dolly Parton. The Pop UP Classroom at the Lincoln Center allows students to participate in art, dance, and performance classes and lessons with professionals from their living room. Kids can watch on Facebook Live as zookeepers from Pennsylvania’s Elmwood Park Zoo feed and care for animals or take a drawing lesson from illustrator Mo Williams at lunchtime.
Don’t forget about regular summer fun! Kids should spend plenty of time doing crafts, playing outside in the sprinkler, exploring, creating, riding bikes, and being active. Not all learning takes place in a structured environment. Sometimes the best opportunities to learn valuable self-management skills and creativity can be found in unstructured time and outdoor adventures.
Although we may have to temporarily adjust our summer plans, luckily, there are so many ways to learn, connect, and explore from home. I would love to hear your ideas. Please post and share virtual summer learning activities you have found below.
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Nina Parrish, M. Ed.
Co-Owner and Director of Education
Proud mom of two adorable girls. Teacher who has developed an education business that started at a kitchen table and has grown into a thriving small business... Click here to Learn more about Nina.
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