News Tip: Tips for Keeping Children Academically Sharp During Summer

Education expert Harris Cooper says community activities and vacations provide learning opportunities

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. Harris Cooper, professor/chair of psychology and neuroscience, Duke University. Quote: "Don't let your child turn summer into a cartoon and video game marathon," Cooper says. "Variety is the spice of life. Academic-related activities shouldn't last all-day, every day, and neither should down-time. 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 school children 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. -- Plan your summer trip with an educational theme. If you've decided where your family might go on vacation, think about what educational benefits might be available. For example, if you're headed to a national park, take the children on a ranger-led geological or historical tour. Have them read a book about where you're going before you leave. If you're still thinking about where to vacation, find out what your child will be studying in the coming school year. For example, if the Constitution is in the curriculum, consider a trip to Philadelphia. -- Talk to a teacher in your child's next grade. Find out what books your child might read over the summer to be prepared for the coming year. If your child is an emerging or beginning reader, ask the teacher to suggest books you can read to and with them. Ask what the content of the math curriculum will be and then visit a local teachers' supply store.                                    _        _        _        _ Duke experts on a variety of other topics can be found at