Family Guide 2023-2024

26 The Best of Monterey Bay® Family 2023-2024 Keep On Learning Making activities fun is the way to keep academic skills sharp during the summer. By Celia Jiménez S tudents count down the days before summer starts for different reasons. Maybe a family trip is planned, or there’s summer camp, or perhaps a summer job is calling. And, of course, it’s nice to have a break from class and homework assignments. However, many studies suggest that over a summer of rest, work and play, K-12 students lose some of the reading, science and math skills gained over the previous school year. While summer break is a time to recharge before the new school year begins, it is also an opportunity for students to maintain or improve their skills—in a fun environment. There are a range of camps tailored to academic development, including programs at public libraries and activities focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) such as those hosted by nonprofits Greenfield and Salinas Community Science Workshops. Salinas City Elementary School District offers expanded student programs during school breaks and on Saturdays. The program includes outdoor activities, STEM projects and tutoring. Children have access to robotics classes, where they take part in hands-on courses about engineering, coding and electronics. In STEM projects such as engineering or robotics, students learn new vocabulary, use logic and solve mathematical puzzles. Sylvan Learning Center, a tutorLocal public libraries offer an array of books for all grade levels. They also offer workshops–all year, including in the summer—for kids to learn about science, improve their writing or painting skills and listen to story time. At left, children participate in “Backyard Science with Berta” at the Marina library. Celia jiménez ing center in Salinas, offers a program where students construct a robot soccer player then write a program that causes it to kick a ball. If problems occur, they review their steps, modify them and try again—no grade attached. José Fausto, director of extended learning and safety with the Salinas City Elementary School District, says when kids are in an environment where they can learn and have fun, they perform better during the school year. This summer, SCESD will offer summer camps for 3,500 students. Low-income students, foster youth and English language learners have enrollment priority. Summer learning activities are not limited to programs run by schools and organizations. If parents engage with their kids in furthering education over the summer, Fausto recommends they start with the California content standards and plan age-appropriate activities. Fausto also advises parents to contact their children’s schools, ask about their reading levels, and make sure books, articles or instructions are neither too easy nor too hard for where the kids stand at the moment. Sylvan owner Cary Swensen encourages students to focus on readCelia jiménez