Summer school or summer break?

May 2, 2021 • Filed under News

By Maureen Downey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Experts urge kids to catch up on missed skills; pandemic-weary parents seem leery

In webinars and Zoom panels about the pandemic’s toll on learning, education experts talk about the need for summer remediation to shore up academic skills compromised by school closings and remote classes.

Yet, many parents are having a different conversation, saying both they and their children are exhausted after a school year like no other. They want their kids sprung from screens, workbooks and math problems so they can visit grandparents, splash in neighborhood pools and ride their bikes.

“If you are telling me your kids want to go bike riding, why don’t we create a bike riding program in the summer where kids learn to design bikes, build them or fix them?” said Aaron P. Dworkin, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association. “It becomes disguised learning where you are having so much fun, you don’t even realize you’re learning.”

In a recent livestream chat, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona agreed that summer school doesn’t have to look like school, suggesting, for example, that kids get free passes to local museums and complete assignments about what they saw.

Dworkin says summer school is being rebranded as summer learning or exploration. “Summer school has a history of being punitive, remedial and a punishment. Summer learning is the opposite of all that — you want to make it so exciting that everyone wants to come.”

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