Thursday October 18 2018
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Staying Sharp in the Summer

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It is no secret that kids are seldom at their strongest academically during the summer. Even top students can lose ground from the end of one school year to the beginning of the next.

Struggling students, meanwhile, can find themselves months behind once the new school year starts. This is particularly true in subjects like math, science and reading. Teachers regularly must re-teach material from the previous academic year. As a result, students are often not obtaining new, advanced material on schedule, which trickles-down to lower grade levels.

This trend can be reversed with just a little academic involvement even when classes are not in session during the summer.

“Focusing on learning for 60 minutes a day in subjects such as math, reading, science and social studies can assist students in catching and keeping up with their studies during the summer,” said Wendy Etheridge Smith, Executive Director of Higher Achievement Pittsburgh, a program that provides educational opportunities to students in communities lacking in opportunities.

Although it may be challenging to persuade a child to learn during the summer, there are ways to encourage learning. Smith suggests using academic skills in daily activities, such as using sports statistics to increase math skills, or using a map instead of a GPS to teach children location and geography.

“Find activities a child already knows how to do," Smith adds. "Have them teach you the activity to reinforce retention ability and give them confidence when learning new activities.”

Other ways to help kids to keep up with their academics in the summer:

  • Creative writing
  • Playing an instrument
  • Physical exercise
  • Limit screen time on TVs and media devices

“Limiting a child’s screen time, whether it is TV, computer, or phone, can increase a child’s willingness to engage in learning during summer,” Smith explains.

Summer learning can be fun and challenging. Students may find learning more fun as they become more capable of meeting scholastic challenges and overcoming any learning deficits. By staying sharp on their academics during summer, children can improve their confidence and self-esteem heading into the next school year.

Higher Education Pittsburgh is an after school and summer program, focusing on middle school-aged kids, providing educational opportunities to students from the inner-city and low-income neighborhoods in an effort to help them succeed in high school and college. The program operates Monday through Thursday, focusing on the subjects of math, reading, science, and social studies. For more information, visit or call 412.605.8448.

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