As we near the end of the school year, teachers, students and parents are ready for a well-deserved break. However, between trips to the swimming pool and Popsicle purchases from the ice cream truck; it is important that we don’t lose all the progress that was made during the school year. Academic studies summarize summer learning loss as having the following characteristics
: (1) students’ achievement scores declined over summer by one month’s worth of school year learning, (2) declines were sharper for math than reading, and (3) the extent of loss was larger at higher grade levels. While the research on technology is still emerging due to the early-stage nature of teaching this subject to children within learning environments, there are some tips that we can offer based on the established body of academic research.
Identify Summer Technology Learning Programs
One of the best ways to prevent summer learning loss is to keep your kids engaged in academic experiences. While this does not mean that you need to find a summer school program that replicates their school experience; researchers have found high quality programs contain the following components: blended academic learning with hands-on or recreational activities, professional staff, and partnerships with community organizations to leverage resources. Chicago City of Learning publishes a wide variety of summer technology camps and digital classes that kids can join
. Using these characteristics, you can ask questions of the host organizations to ensure their programs are a good fit. Even if it’s just for an hour/week, having a continuous technology touchpoint throughout the year and into the summer will serve your child well.
Home Based Tech Learning
The traditional academic environment holds a lot of promise for keeping kids engaged throughout the year and into the summer. However, home based learning opportunities especially for technology are abundant. Scratch, a block-based programming language developed at MIT, is accessible over the internet or downloadable onto a home computer. Once kids understand the mechanics of how Scratch works, they can experiment endlessly with making their own games and animations. In addition, kids can read up on the technology that is all around them in the home – how do computers work
, how does wi-fi work
, how social networks work
and how does the internet work
are great examples of using relevant topics to keep kids engaged.
Technology Field Trips
During the summer, a variety of organizations host programs that enable kids to learn more about technology. The Museum of Science and Industry is a great example of an institution that has an ongoing commitment to teaching kids of all ages about established and emerging technologies. In fact, there are a couple of days that the Museum of Science and Industry offers free admission to Illinois residents
. There are also a variety of local festivals (Taste of Chicago) that will often have a technology exhibition component that enables kids to touch, experiment, and learn more about the wonderful world of technology.
Volunteer/Intern at a Technology-Based Organization
One of the best ways to stay engaged with technology is to spend a few hours each week at an organization that is dedicated to either the instruction or business application of technology. These organizations provide a dual benefit – you get to see a wide variety of technology use and application along with how technology impacts business at a broader level. Opportunities at these organizations are in high demand, so be sure to reach out as early as possible to express your interest. In addition, if your child is able to show that they have prior experience working with technology that can often give them a leg up on other ambitious candidates.
While the summer is a great time for kids to recharge their batteries, we should always be cognizant that there are many opportunities to learn and the next generation is hungry to develop understanding and ultimately expertise with the technologies they interact and engage with on a daily basis.