Summer Learning: Fun and "Stealth" Educational Activities Keep Kids Sharp this Summer - Without Them Even Knowing!

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Virtual School Connections Academy Offers Ten Tips to Keep Learning Alive Over the Summer

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Children need ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills, particularly during the summer months

For kids, summer is synonymous with fun and games and a welcomed break from school. And although no summer is complete without a little R & R, research shows that "summer learning loss" is an issue for many students when they do not engage in educational activities. Studies also show that for some students, participation in summer learning opportunities can result in higher graduation rates and better preparation for college.

"Children need ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills, particularly during the summer months," said Dr. Patricia Hoge, Vice President for Curriculum and Instruction for Connections Academy, a leading virtual public school. "Fortunately, most summer activities can be optimized for learning -- often it is just a matter of recognizing the opportunity and approaching it from an educational angle. Our teachers have come up with a great list of ideas for parents who might not know where to begin -- ten fun and engaging ways to keep children's minds stimulated and prevent summer learning loss."

Experts in learning outside of the traditional classroom, Connections Academy educators suggest the following summer learning opportunities. In addition, you may listen to our podcast, "Learning Everyday" by clicking here.

1. Transform everyday routines into "teachable moments" -- The simplest daily tasks offer a wealth of learning opportunities. Cooking is a great way for kids to practice basic measuring and math skills. Writing a grocery list promotes vocabulary, spelling, and handwriting. In the garden, young learners can identify colors and shapes; older students might identify the parts of plants and study how they grow. Improve sorting skills while doing the laundry.

2. Record summer memories in a journal -- Summer activities abound and there is no better way to capture those memories than by keeping a journal. Writing about daily events allows children to tell a story, boost their vocabularies, and practice grammar and spelling.

3. Take a learning "stay-cation" -- A trip to a local museum, zoo, or pool can become a mini-field trip. Visit places that offer children's activities, like being "art detectives" or ''geologists for a day.'' Make a scavenger hunt for your outing. For example, at a museum ask your children to ''find three sculptures'' or ''find a painting of a child.'' When you return home, encourage your children to write about their day.

4. Write and publish a book -- Promote creative writing and drawing and practice grammar and spelling with this rewarding activity. Ask children to write and illustrate their own story. Once their manuscript is complete, you could send it to a bookmaker, like http://www.lulu.com , or create a homemade book.

5. Put on a show! -- Music, art, and theater are proven to help foster well-rounded learners. Encourage kids to write their own play or musical, design sets, and perform for friends and family. If your child likes visual arts like painting and drawing, turn the living room into a gallery and host an opening reception. And be sure to take advantage of local children's theaters and art museums.

6. Conduct "kitchen science" experiments -- There are numerous science experiments that can be done at home, including making slime polymer, reacting baking soda and vinegar to erupt volcanoes, making stalagmites and stalactites using baking soda or sodium bicarbonate, and growing sugar crystals to make rock candy. Check out your local library for science books with kid-friendly science activities.

7. Enter or host a game tournament -- Participating in a game tournament is an engaging way to boost logic skills and sportsmanship and make new friends. Encourage children to enter a chess, scrabble, spelling, or trivia tournament, or suggest that they plan and host their own tournament with friends.

8. Get your green on -- Designate your children as the household's enviro-specialists. Ask them to learn about your town's recycling program and to make sure you are following guidelines. Invite them to assess whether or not you are making environmentally-conscious decisions in the home. Encourage them read about and investigate the implications of long showers, light bulb choice, etc.

9. Make the most of a rainy day -- When faced with a rainy day - talk about it! Together, research the hows and whys of rain. Ask children to write a story or draw a picture of the weather. Encourage creative and descriptive language -- see how many words they can use to describe rain.

10. And everyday...read -- Summer break is a great time to visit your local library. Reading stimulates children's minds - opening doors to imaginary worlds and providing a view into places children may never have the opportunity to see firsthand. Encourage your children to start a book club with their friends. This is a great way for children to practice interpreting what they read as well as promote their public speaking skills.

Connections Academy is currently holding free information sessions across the country for families interested in learning more about virtual public school. Learn more online at http://www.ConnectionsAcademy.com or by calling 1.800.382.6010.

About Connections Academy
Connections Academy is a leading national provider of high quality, highly accountable virtual public schools in thirteen states operated in partnership with charter schools, school districts, and state departments of education. Connections Academy schools deliver top-quality, personalized education for students that combines certified teachers, a proven curriculum, technology tools, and community experiences to create a supportive and successful environment for children who want an individualized approach to education. In Connections Academy's unique Personalized Performance Learning® approach, students use daily lesson plans and curriculum materials provided by Connections Academy. Teachers develop a learning plan for each student, whose progress is tracked through a proprietary, web-based Learning Management System. In the 2008-09 school year Connections Academy served students in grades K-12 in Arizona, California (Southern and Central), Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, Missouri (through the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program), Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin (some schools do not offer all grades). For more information, call 800-382-6010 or visit http://www.ConnectionsAcademy.com.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Allison Bazin, Connections Academy Public Relations
(609)247-0275

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