Two smiling girls sitting at a table in a classroom and reading chapter books

Stop the summer slide, one page at a time! From reading to educational apps and hands-on activities, keep kids learning throughout the summer so they’re ready to take on the new school year.

5 Ways to Stop the Summer Slide and Help Kids Keep Learning

Summer break is a time for kids to relax and have fun, but it can also lead to learning loss known as the "summer slide."

Studies show that students, especially those from low-income families, experience a decline in academic skills. In fact, these kids lose an average of two months in reading achievement over the summer, causing them to fall almost three grade levels behind their peers by the time they reach fifth grade. To add to this, math and reading scores are at historic lows due to disrupted learning during the pandemic.

To help kids keep learning and foster their academic success when school is out, Boys & Girls Clubs of America has developed effective programs to prevent summer learning loss and bridge the achievement gap. This includes a national partnership with Panda Cares, the philanthropic arm of Panda Express, in support of Project Learn, an evidence-based approach to youth-centered learning at Boys & Girls Clubs. Panda Cares also creates Centers of Hope at Clubs — safe and inclusive spaces that encourage learning, interaction and personal development.

Here are five ways parents and caregivers can support learning while schools are out for summer.

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Make Reading a Priority

Reading is a powerful tool that nurtures imagination, enhances vocabulary and boosts comprehension skills. By encouraging children to read during the break, kids can stave off summer learning loss and keep their minds sharp. Reading exposes them to new ideas, different perspectives and diverse cultures.

Help kids make reading a priority by being a reading role model and establishing a regular reading routine. Make reading a family activity and initiate discussions to deepen their engagement. Parents and caregivers can also create a reading space at home or visit a library for designated reading time.

And remember, audio books count toward reading comprehension and might help get your kid interested in reading — support them in the learning style that works for them.

“By having a fresh space designated for learning on their terms, youth are able to focus on the task at hand, whether it’s a STEM activity, getting their homework done or nestling into a reading nook with a new book. That’s why we’re proud to provide youth-friendly spaces through Centers of Hope at Boys & Girls Clubs.” - Tina Hsing, Director of Panda Cares

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Embrace Summer Learning Programs

To beat the summer slide, check out local community centers, libraries and schools for interactive summer learning programs. They make learning fun and exciting as kids explore new subjects.

At Clubs, kids can join programs like Summer Brain Gain that keep them active and engaged during summer break, all while having a great time. With themed activities and a final project to practice working together, it’s a supportive environment that teaches them about teamwork and critical thinking — skills that will prepare them for school and apply later in life.

“Summer Brain Gain was specifically designed to prevent summer learning loss and engage youth ages 6-18 in fun project-based learning with an added emphasis on STEM and literacy to support math and reading skills.” - Chrissy Chen, National Director of Youth Development Programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of America

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Embark on Educational Trips and Activities

Learning doesn't have to be confined to the classroom. Museums, science centers, historical landmarks and zoos offer valuable opportunities for kids to ask questions, actively engage with exhibits and discuss what they learned. The best part is that many of these places offer discounts for students and even free admission days, so groups can explore them without breaking the bank.

At Clubs, kids can connect with nature and explore environmental science through outdoor education and summer learning programs. Activities like gardening, hiking and camping teach kids about ecosystems, sustainability and conservation. They can also participate in community service projects focused on environmental stewardship, nurturing a sense of responsibility and empathy towards the natural world.

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Use Technology to Enhance Summer Learning

Make summer learning engaging and interactive by integrating educational technology. Look for websites, apps and online platforms that provide games, quizzes and educational content covering different subjects. Encourage kids to spend some time exploring these resources, selecting ones that align with their interests and grade level. Through programs like the Computer Science Pathway, Club kids can hone their STEAM skills and develop interests that shape their future careers.

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Foster Hands-on Learning

Taking part in hands-on activities promotes critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity, all essential to preventing the summer slide. Motivate kids to pursue projects that align with their interests, such as building models, conducting science experiments or doing art and crafts.

Cooking together can also be an opportunity to explore mathematical concepts and improve reading comprehension by following recipes — plus, it’s a fun way to connect with youth! These activities not only enhance academic skills but also cultivate a sense of curiosity and independence.

At Clubs, kids have dedicated spaces stocked with tools, materials and technology that enable kids to engage in DIY (Do-It-Yourself) activities to bring their dreams to life. From models to woodworking and 3D printing, the possibilities are truly limitless.

Whatever you decide to embark on to stop the summer slide, make sure to practice recognition and reflection with the youth in your life. Go beyond a simple “great job!” and provide specific feedback. For example, say, “I can tell you’ve been practicing,” “That’s a creative idea,” or “That question makes me curious to learn more.” Also, encouraging kids to reflect on their experience teaches them to observe, look for significance and consider future exploration.

“Reflection is a way to make almost any experience an opportunity for learning. Prompting youth to reflect on what they’re experiencing makes them more likely to remember it.” - Chrissy Chen, National Director of Youth Development Programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of America

These simple actions will enhance your interactions and make this summer a meaningful learning experience for kids and teens.

Give More Kids Summer Learning Opportunities

Boys & Girls Clubs provide affordable, safe and inclusive places for today’s youth to learn, explore interests and develop essential skills. Your support gives Club kids and teens the hands-on experiences, technical supplies and dedicated mentorship they need to tackle the upcoming school year with confidence, setting them on a path toward success.

Panda Express, through Panda Cares, supports academic success programming at Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide, empowering the next generation to excel in school, build their character, and develop leadership skills for a great future. By working together to provide high-quality, personalized learning experiences, Panda Cares, and Boys & Girls Clubs help youth reach their full academic potential and cultivate a love for learning.

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