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How to Keep Your Child Learning This Summer

It’s important to support your child’s learning at home, and that’s especially true over the summer. When children don’t actively engage in learning activities during summer break, research indicates they can lose as much as three years of learning by the end of fifth grade.

Once a student falls behind, it becomes even harder for them to catch up. That’s why it’s critical for kids to keep learning in the summer months.

Consider These Summer Brain-Building Ideas …

… For Kids of All Ages

  • Enroll children in a summer learning program, like a science or art camp. A good summer learning program will offer your child fun and educational opportunities. Learn about the summer camp programs offered by the city governments of Tennessee’s four largest cities:
  • Play learning games. Even simple things like doing the dishes, playing ring toss or buying groceries can be used as fun lessons. There are lots of free learning games online; ask your child’s teacher for recommendations. You can also buy learning games online and in educational stores.
  • Do puzzles. Brainteaser toys and puzzles keeps kids’ minds active and nimble. They promote problem-solving.
  • Cook with your child. Cooking provides many brain-building activities, such as reading the cookbook, measuring ingredients, and organizing and completing a plan. It also teaches an important life skill.
  • Find a public library near you and consider selecting and checking out books with your child. Researchers from the University of Tennessee say children who read during the summer gain a month of reading growth.
  • Find a free summer reading program for your child at a local library. Each summer, the Tennessee State Library and Archives sponsors a statewide reading program. This summer’s program is “Build a Better World.”
  • The Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL) has excellent content for kids of all ages and features free e-books, educational games and activities.
  • Access thousands of free ebooks for children through Tennessee R.E.A.D.S., which is available with a library card from your public library and through a computer/laptop or a portable device such as a tablet or a smartphone.
  • Visit zoos and museums, or go on a hike. Turn these trips into brain-building activities by asking questions and discussing what you see with your child.
  • Encourage your child to write a daily journal during the summer. Provide journal prompts such as—“What is your first memory?” “Describe the perfect day,” or “If I was invisible, I would …”—to get them thinking and to encourage creativity.

… For Young Children

Sign up for the Governor's Books from Birth program, which provides free quality age-appropriate books to registered children each month from birth to age 5.

Try to read 20 minutes with your children every day year-round. Join the First Lady's Read20 Family Book Club, which selects a “Book of the Month” and offers suggestions for family activities that relate to the book.

… For Adolescents

Consider job and volunteer opportunities for your teenager. Parks and recreation departments, schools, local businesses, museums and city governments often have summer job programs that provide valuable learning experiences. Working at a summer camp, for example, can help a teen build communication and organizational skills.

Read to be Ready

Read to be Ready is a Tennessee Department of Education campaign designed to increase third grade reading proficiency in Tennessee to 75 percent by 2025 through a variety of initiatives. The Read to be Ready Summer Grant program funds educational camps that help rising first-, second- and third-graders who are not on the grade level in reading during the critical summer months.

This year, the department awarded more than $8.5 million to 212 summer grant recipients throughout Tennessee, benefiting over 11,000 students in 107 communities. For more information on Read to be Ready and the summer grant program, contact Paige Atchley, Read to be Ready program director, at

Additional Resources

For more information about summer learning loss and its effects, visit the National Summer Learning Association.

Learn about educational activities you can enjoy with your child to prevent summer learning loss.

Click here to read about three suggestions to prevent summer learning loss from

Click here to read about five ways to prevent summer learning loss from the Children’s Literacy Initiative.

Research from Reading is Fundamental (RIF)—“Combating the Summer Learning Slide in America”—highlights opportunities to improve literacy skills in children.

Watch our video for more great ideas for a summer full of learning activities!