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Lifeline: Tips for keeping children academically sharp during summer

Lifeline: Planning a summer trip with an educational theme can help; zoos and libraries may offer programs as well
Oklahoman Published: July 15, 2013

You don't have to let your child's summer turn into a “cartoon and video marathon,” says a Duke University education expert. There are a number of ways to keep children mentally active when school is out. Harris Cooper, a Duke professor of psychology and neuroscience, has conducted a meta-analysis of studies on summer learning loss and is also a noted expert on homework.

“Don't let your child turn summer into a cartoon and video game marathon,” Cooper said. “Variety is the spice of life. Academic-related activities shouldn't last all day, every day, and neither should downtime. Kids are learning all the time, even during summer, no matter what they're doing.”

He offers the following tips to help parents keep their children active academically while also pursuing traditional summer activities:

Consider summer school. Summer programs are not just for children who are having difficulty in school. Many programs provide enrichment activities. Look into math enrichment because children tend not to practice math a lot when they're out of school. Other programs for junior high and high schoolchildren provide required coursework so they can move ahead more quickly or free up time in their regular-year schedules. If your student does have an academic weakness, summer is the perfect time to help strengthen it.

Look for academic-related activities in your community. Your local library probably has a summer reading program for emerging and beginning readers. These usually meet on a regular basis. Local museums also may run one-time or continuing events. Zoos are good, too. Local businesses and factories may provide educational tours.

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