Avoiding Summer Learning Loss

By Michelle Moskowitz
Sentinel Correspondent

“School’s out for the summer!” Kids and parents alike are happy to ring out the school year and segue into laid-back summer.

It’s the season of late sunsets, BBQs, excursions to Tod’s Point, and popular summer camp and programs: the Audubon Summer Nature Day Camp, Camp Simmons, Camp Gan, Greenwich Country Day, and Chelsea Piers, to name just a few.

But while the pace of summer is indeed slower and packed with fun-filled activities, many parents and teachers are interested in maintaining their child’s education.

“I worry that without designated homework each night, and assigned reading, it will be harder to get that 20-30 minutes of required reading per day,” said one Greenwich mother. She has good reason to be concerned.

The National Summer Learning Association cites decades of research showing students’ test scores are higher in the beginning of the summer than at the end.

“Summer Learning Loss” – defined as the loss in academic skills and knowledge over the summer break – is very real.

Of course there should be a balance between not losing hard earned academic progress and enjoying a sense of freedom over the summer months while experiencing life and learning in a non-academic way.

“I want my kids to explore their love of nature and the great outdoors and play in the summer air until it’s dark out,” said Krista Gallagher, a Greenwich mother of two.

Summer is a great time for parents to share and make memories with their children. Camping, family vacations, nature hikes (at Babcock Preserve and the Audubon Center, for example), or bonfires and s’mores. Mostly time together is the key.

But when parents and kids are ready to come inside and children want to spend a little time with their electronics, video games do not need to be their only option.

Seize that moment to eliminate summer learning loss. The Greenwich Public School district has been hard at work developing a comprehensive platform for continuing education for students K–12. By visiting www.greenwichschools.org and selecting the Virtual Library, students have access to to over 1000 e-books and other great resources, such as Pebble Go, ScienceFlix, Follett Shelf, and many more.

Julian Curtiss Library media specialist Heather McGuiness, who has taught in both the private and public sector in Greenwich for more than 11 years, grew animated recently while clicking through the myriad learning tools.

“The power of the the CPS Virtual Library is truly remarkable,” she said. “It provides high quality, vetted resources that are free of advertisements and safe from chat capabilities. Kids can really strike that balance with summer fun and at the same time, explore high-interest categories such as math, science or reading in the comfort of their own home.”

With apps like conn.org, families can research their family history or their favorite historical figures together. Or for a bit of online trivia, via the Ask.com feature, families can answer the question of the day at dinner time: Q. What was the name of Neil Armstrong’s shuttle? A. The names of the spacecraft on which Neil Armstrong flew are Gemini 8 and Apollo 11.

In addition, no log-in or passwords are required, which is a huge time-saver and provides an instant accessibility for the kids. “Parents and their kids can take adventures together through this website. The content is ever-changing and fresh, so kids have something new to look forward to,” said McGuiness.

The GPS Virtual Library’s extensive databases, robust search engines and varied multi-media video components are sure to engage all who visit. Moreover, it’s a safe forum for kids to challenge their current reading or subject levels without any pressure.

All resources are free to the public and accessible to parents and to students of all ages. An Internet connection is required, but for those who do not have Internet access, take a family field trip to the Greenwich Library Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Visit www.greenwichschools.org.

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