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It's National Summer Learning Day

Summer learning can take many forms, including learning a new skill. (woodleywonderworks/flickr)
Summer learning can take many forms, including learning a new skill. (woodleywonderworks/flickr)
July 14, 2016

SEATTLE — It's National Summer Learning Day and across the country, people are raising awareness about the benefits of summer learning. More than 25 million low-income students miss out on learning opportunities each summer and those losses add up.

By fifth grade, students who experience summer loss can be nearly three years behind their peers. According to Matthew Boulay with the National Summer Learning Association, most of our investment in kids takes place during the school year.

"Summer's the most unequal time in America,” Boulay said. "We invest as a nation billions of dollars in our children's healthy growth and development, but that investment really takes a break over the summer."

Summer learning can take many different forms, Boulay said. It can be piano lessons, summer camps, online learning, or hands-on science programs.

According to a survey by the Afterschool Alliance, only 21 percent of school-age children in Washington state participate in summer learning programs, though 49 percent of parents say they would enroll their children if programs were available.

Boulay said these programs aren't just about preventing loss. Summer learning leads to gains as well.

"When children are engaged in learning, of course they leap forward,” Boulay said. "And participation in high-quality programs over multiple summers can significantly promote and increase children's academic growth."

Brukab Sisay is running a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics - or STEM - program for middle schoolers this summer at East African Community Services in Seattle. Over five weeks, the students will learn about computer coding and do some coding of their own. Then they'll head to the Museum of Flight to see their code go to work for NASA.

"So those kids will be creating code,” Brukab said. “And then at that final event, [they’ll] actually see their code being applied to these satellites within the space station."

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA