Top Summer Learning Resources to Encourage Play
By Sara Leman
While children would traditionally be counting down the days until summer break, they've now been thrust into a world of uncertainty as schools everywhere have been forced to shift drastically in order to meet the demands of our new normal.
With COVID‑19 disruptions affecting students around the globe, at‑home learning resources are coming to the rescue. Programs like Reading Eggs and Mathseeds not only supplement students' learning during the school year, but also enable a seamless transition into the summer months, where children can continue learning in an engaging yet playful way.
So as the school year comes to a close, it's more important than ever to seek out trusted, high‑quality summer learning resources to combat the dramatic disruption in traditional schooling caused by COVID‑19, in addition to the age old summer slide.
Learning through play
According to the CER, “education is the pathway to the American Dream. Done right, it provides all students with an equal opportunity to participate in the future.” That's why it's so important to find quality summer learning resources that make learning not just educational but fun too.
Through our work developing the online learning resource Reading Eggs and its partner program Mathseeds, we've completed extensive research on how children learn and how best to engage them at home. While some children learn best through a kinaesthetic approach, others learn through song and verbal‑linguistic approaches – the common denominator being that children learn best through play. If the information is presented in an engaging way with fun games to keep them motivated, children are more likely to hold onto key concepts and continue with their studies.
High quality online programs
To successfully continue educating children throughout the summer, parents are looking for high‑quality online programs that combine traditional ways of learning with the demands and expectations of 21st‑century students. Today's world is far more information‑rich and fast‑paced. As a result of this digital‑first climate, children can't just learn to read anymore, they must also learn how to interpret, connect with, and use their new‑found digital literacy skills. By approaching these concepts in a way that encourages play, children become more engaged with the material and actually look forward to participating in lessons rather than pushing back against a "boring" activity.
Avoiding the summer slide
According to Harris Cooper's 1996 study, children could lose around 20% of their gains in reading and 30% of their gains in maths during summer break. Parents can combat this with just 15 minutes a day of an engaging online program, which is enough to help keep children actively learning while avoiding the summer slide. They'll go back to school with more confidence in their abilities while still enjoying their summer months – it's a win‑win!
One key reason for the success of online learning is that students are able to go at their own pace, revisiting or accelerating through concepts as needed. In Reading Eggs and Mathseeds, we put an emphasis on colourful graphics and high‑quality animations to help hold students' attention, and we have carefully constructed the program to easily match children's learning levels from ages two through 13. Our goal is to make the lessons highly motivational and rewarding so students are not only engaged with the material, but also maintained comprehension. As everyone learns differently, it's especially important to find a learning tool that fits each child's unique approach.
Summer learning resources – what to consider
Regardless of the platform chosen, parents who are looking for quality online programs for their children should consider Slavin's QUAIT model of effective classroom practice which looks at these four main factors:
Quality of instruction – lessons are organised and interesting.
Appropriate levels of instruction – lessons fit the student's current knowledge level.
Incentive – students want to engage with the platform.
Time – how long it takes them to complete the course.
Online programs like Reading Eggs and Mathseeds should also allow parents to get involved, encouraging them to cheer on their children and celebrate their successes. With lessons taking the pressure off of parents to teach their children, they can relax and do what they do best – support and encourage their child's achievements.
Set your children up for success
Let's invest in our children's futures. Through the power of technology, we are able to invest in our children's futures and continue educating and setting them up for future success. With resources that offer playful respite from traditional learning, families are able to continue to boost their children's education throughout the summer months, keeping them on track for the coming school year.
Read more about how Reading Eggs helped students improve their reading skills during the COVID‑19 school shutdowns.
Looking for more inspiration for summer learning? Try these virtual summer camp ideas.