2007-07-03 / News

Keep kids' busy this summer

Just because school is out doesn't mean you should let your child's mind take the summer off.

Kids need fun, educational activities to keep their minds active over the summer to help prevent what is known as summer learning loss.

According to many education experts, research shows that students who are not exposed to stimulating, educational activities over the summer months often experience a seasonal brain drain - where they literally lose a couple of months' worth of math or reading skills.

"Summer should be a break from school, but that doesn't mean summer should be a break from learning," said Edward J. McElroy, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). "It's actually a perfect time for students to focus on special skills or pursue their own interests in a more leisurely, but enriching, setting."

To prevent summer learning loss, students should be encouraged to read, keep a journal or learn something new during the summer months.

With the goal of curing the summer doldrums and helping keep children's minds and imaginations sharp, the AFT has teamed up with the National Geographic Society to offer "The 2007 AFT Summer Field Trip" - a free, virtual safari through Africa for kids.

Beginning in June, students ages 7-11 can join Jacob GirAFT, the Summer Field Trip safari guide, to learn about the people, cultures and animals of Africa at www.aft.org/fieldtrip. This free Web site also features other games to test students' vocabulary and geographic knowledge.

Additionally, parents, teachers, librarians, camp counselors or anyone interested can order a free, colorful African safari trivia game and poster from the AFT by calling 202-879-4458.

Here are some other ideas from education experts for different summer activities that can help kids ward off summer learning loss:

+ Check out community organizations. Many local community affairs centers, schools, libraries, churches and even colleges offer interesting summer programs for kids.

+ Just about any interactive activity can help children's minds - including field trips, computer classes, performing arts sessions, arts and crafts and many more such activities.

+ There also are many opportunities to join with your kids on learning adventures at local museums, aquariums, zoos, concerts and national parks.

Think of the summertime as an opportunity for children to take an extended field trip - exploring, learning and trying new things.

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