SPECIAL REPORT: Smart summer - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

SPECIAL REPORT: Smart summer

It's been a long school year and summer is finally here. But, that doesn't mean students have to stop learning. In fact, studies show they shouldn't. So how can your student make the most of the time away from the classroom?

At McKinley Elementary School in Stevens Point a group of students are doing some digging.

“It's just fun because you get to do new stuff,” said Shayla Kvatek, a fourth grader.

Another group of students are exploring nature.

We hardly ever get to go out here,” said fourth grader Austin Cramer as he pointed to his outdoor classroom. “We just sit in the chair and learn like math and science.”

But, this is learning.

“The kids seem to think it's a lot different than a regular school year,” said Robert King, summer school teacher.

About 1,000 students are enrolled in the elementary summer school program in Stevens Point. The program is designed to keep children engaged during the summer months.

“You're trying to get as many opportunities for the kids to get their hands on projects, on books, on technology,” said King.

“Kids get to pick classes, anything from cooking classes, fitness classes, classes at the Boston School Forest,” added Heather Cramer, the summer school coordinator.

A study done by the National Summer Learning Association found students can lose up to two months of academic knowledge during the summer. It's called the summer slide.

“You'll see a lot of summer slide when they come back in the fall,” explained King. “It can be anywhere from 4-8 weeks worth of catch up time.”

Educators say it only takes is a few hours a day to prevent that.

“In summer school they get to see their friends, they're meeting new friends. They have hands on things that are going on everyday,” said Cramer.

Teachers say it works.

“We've actually had students who have had gains over summer school because of the engagement that they had,” said Cramer.

Students say, it's fun.

“I won't be at home just watching TV and you could be bored at your house like seeing what to do next,” said Kvatek.

“I would probably just play with my Legos and play with my cars and probably get really bored,” said Austin.

Students are in school for six weeks Monday through Thursday starting in June.

“That way the kids still have their summer,” said King.

Although it's too late to sign your student up this summer, there's always room next year. Educators recommend reserving your spot by May. But, don't worry. There are still plenty of things you can do now to help your student out.

At Bannach Elementary School, a serious lesson of Myths and Mayhem is underway.

“I see that its using their brain the way that I want them to use it,” said Kym Buchanan.

Buchanan's two daughters attend the Youth in College program in Stevens Point. It offers different classes for high academic ability students for two weeks during the summer.

“It keeps their brain in shape,” said Buchanan.

And, it keeps them reading.

At the Marathon County Public Library in Wausau it's all about reading.

“We try to find a fun spin on learning,” said Kathleen Kosiec, library specialist.

About 95% of public libraries throughout the country offer free summer reading programs.

“Kids go back to school and they kind of forgot what they learned the past year. Reading is a great way to help combat that,” explained Kosiec.

That's why their summer calendar is packed, and it's all for free.

“What we're really trying to do is strike a balance between entertainment and an educational opportunity,” said Kosiec.

So whether it's digging in the dirt, painting in the park, or getting up close and personal with science, there is more than one way to stay smart this summer.

For a look at library events in central Wisconsin, click here.

For a look at summer camps throughout central Wisconsin, click here.

The United States Department of Education also offers tips to prevent the summer slide. You can find them by clicking here.

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