Summer Smarts

How the state keeps kids learning during the summer

Many parents are concerned about the dormant summer months and keeping their kids mentally sharp.

When it comes to the summer, most kids are enjoying summer camp or vacation time with their families. But it’s that down time that worries school officials the most.

Children of all ages experience learning losses during the summer when they don’t engage in educational activities. Students that don’t keep up their learning skills risk falling behind and that could affect their learning ability for years to come.

Georgia school officials are also concerned about learning taking a break over the long holiday. It’s an issue that Georgia state school Superintendent Richard Woods says the state is working to correct. News 3’s Deidre Johnson had the opportunity to sit down with Woods for an exclusive interview to talk about what the state is doing to keep kids learning.

“What we’re trying to do now is make sure they don’t lose what they learned and retained during the previous school year,” Woods says. “…so just taking a few minutes a day to read and refresh the brain and keep it active…”

Low-income youth experience greater summer learning losses than their higher income peers. Part of the strategy the state is utilizing is putting out YouTube videos to motivate students to stay on track with their education.

A recent study found that students lose approximately 2.5 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical skills during the summer months. Changing that number is a top priority for Woods, who says coming from a military family, he was taught at an early age about the value of learning and especially, the value of reading.

“Every year and a half we were on the move. And to keep up with my peers whether it was from California to Hawaii to Virginia to Georgia..I had to be reading. I had to have the influence and that ability to comprehend,” Woods says.

Many parents are concerned about the dormant summer months and keeping their kids mentally sharp.
Many parents are concerned about the dormant summer months and keeping their kids mentally sharp.

The state school superintendent says getting more kids to read during the summer months will help Georgia not only become one of the best in the nation in terms of education, but also help Georgia become number one.

“The top is the goal,” Woods says. “I think we can definitely obtain that. It has to be something that we commit to and we’re in it for the long-haul and its something I’m personally committed to.”

Local parents at the Columbus Public Library on Macon Road are taking the initiative to keep their kids engaged during the summer.

“We actually come to the library twice a week to check out books,” parent Erica Crews says. “It’s important because I feel like there’s higher learning expectations as the grade levels go up.”

Another parent, Wendy Ramos, believes the library can keep her kids off the couch.

“It’s good for them to keep their skills up and not to just sit around watch TV, play video games all summer. Keep them sharp and ready for the next school year,” Ramos says.

Tyler O’Grady appreciates the variety the library offers.

“There’s every variety from chapter books to picture books from sports books and they can choose anything they want.”

Besides checking out the library, some kids are actually in school during the summer to try and make up classes they had trouble with during the regular school year.

“The summer program is called credit recovery/summer school. It’s totally an online program offered through the GA Department of Education,” says Carolyn Randolph, an instructor specialist and academic coach.

Woods says the state of Georgia is looking at providing books for every Kindergarten child to help students learn no matter if it’s during the summer or the regular school year. They also want to turn to pediatricians and dentists to get them to share the importance of reading with parents and with their child patients.

To find some free summer reading resources to help your child, just click here.



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