Every year around this time, the debate over how harmful summer is to students’ academic achievement pops up. But I would argue that although students may not be in class, taking notes and studying for tests, the three-month break provides a unique opportunity for kids to experience hands-on learning, which can often bring into focus what they’ve been learning about in school and re-energize them for a new school year in the fall.
For example, take a look at this project in Philadelphia, where students gather for six hours a day to tend to a small farm at their school. Not only do students learn about agriculture and nutrition, but the program also strengthens ties with the community, as many look forward to buying the fruits and vegetables once they’ve been harvested.
And here’s another example: a program in Montana that teaches kids how to sail during the summer as part of the Helena school district’s Promoting Enriching Activities for Kids program.
[The program's instructor] said about half the students ... ingest as much information about sailing as they can and return year after year for the class.
I know that not all students have access to programs like these and plenty of kids spend their summer vacations parked in front of the television, but for some children, I think summer can be an important educational experience, in both formal and informal ways.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.