Let the Summer Learning Begin

The summer slide, summer brain drain – no matter what you call it, summer learning loss is no laughing matter. While kids (and parents!) deserve a break from the early morning chaos and nightly homework battles, it is important to help kids retain their hard-earned knowledge over the summer months. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to exercise those mental muscles while having fun. Read on for a few ideas.

Sign up for a summer reading program.

Summer reading programs at public libraries throughout the greater Indianapolis area encourage children to explore new reading adventures while having fun and earning rewards. Not only do these programs provide incentives for children and teens to keep reading all summer long, they also encourage parents and family members to get in on the action. Prizes and program details vary, but all summer reading programs are free for library patrons. Stop in your local library to sign up today, and while you are there be sure to check out the range of free programs offered year-round – everything from story time and STEM workshops to acting classes and crafting clubs.

Try something new at summer camp.

What better way to keep the mind sharp than by trying something totally new, and summer camp is the perfect place to do just that. Research indicates that participation in intentional programs, like camp, helps reduce summer learning loss. The experiences at camp foster problem-solving skills that will carry over into the school year. Camp also gives children the chance to break free from everyday expectations and try new skills in an environment that has no grading scale. The laid-back atmosphere at camp offers the ideal setting for kids to discover and develop the things they truly enjoy. Today there is a camp for practically every interest imaginable – from musical theater to coding, 3D printing to filmmaking. Our Summer Camp Guide on pages xx-xx is a great place to start exploring summer camp options.

Turn screen time into learning time.

Let’s face it – avoiding screen time entirely over the summer months is a pipe dream for many. But with the number of educational apps now available, screen time in moderation can actually serve as a learning tool. Here are just a few of our favorites.


  • Starfall has your child covered from reading readiness to independent reading.
  • This is my Story (and I’m Sticking to It) lets kids create their own story and discover new words.


  • Operation Mathsends kids on a global learning adventure as an undercover agent.
  • DragonBox Algebra 5+introduces the basic processes involved in solving linear equations in an intuitive, fun series of puzzles.


  • ChemCaper, which is part sleek game, part chemistry lesson, uses the role-playing genre to teach kids about chemical bonds and the Periodic Table.
  • Plum’s Photo Hunt from PBS KIDS encourages young kids to get outside with their devices to snap pictures while learning about nature.

 Make vacation a learning opportunity.

Whether you are heading just a few hours up the road to grandma’s house or embarking on a cross-country trek, turn your summer travels into a chance for academic exploration. Learning on the road can be as simple as counting the number of cows you pass or as complex as calculating travel time based on the speed you are traveling. Before your trip, head to the library and check out travel guides or stories set in your travel destination to uncover interesting facts, historical tidbits and landmarks to keep an eye out for. Break out a good old-fashioned atlas and use a highlighter to trace your travel route so your kids can follow along when you are on the road (or in the air). Pick up postcards along the way and have your children write descriptions of the places you visit, or better yet, have them write their own unique story incorporating all of your stops. The opportunities for learning while traveling are endless.

Kids deserve a break from school, but that doesn’t mean the learning has to end. With a few fun ideas in place, you can keep those mental muscles moving until the school bell rings again in the fall.

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