How summer won't melt your child's brain

(WEAU) - A specialist for the Youth and Precollege Program says it’s a reality that kids lose skills such as spelling and math over summer. However, there are classes and reading programs throughout the area that can keep your child busy and wanting to learning more.

For the last several years, parent Jennifer Hughes has made sure her 1st and 3rd graders at Pedersen Elementary stay educated during the summer.

"Both our kids participate in the Altoona Rails Program which runs for 6 weeks out of the summer and they choose 4 different fun classes," said parent Jennifer Hughes.

Her kids also do the Altoona Summer Reading Program and Books in the Park, which gives kids one free book two Fridays in June and July.

"We realized that kids lose a lot of reading skills over summer and we wanted to give them an opportunity to get books over the summer and continue reading so when they come back in September their at the same level when they left in May," said Tara Betlach, organizer of Books in the Park

Libby Thurston with UW- Eau Claire Continuing Education feels summer is good time to take on a hobby that can incorporate academics.

“We have the Summer Institute that's for K through 5. We also have Brain Blasters specifically for middle school students and we try to provide really engaging activities, really enriching lessons," said Libby Thurston, Senior Outreach Specialist for Youth and Precollege Programs.

One Summer Institute class runs for two weeks for two hours a day, and costs 85 dollars. Kids from all over can join in the fun.

"We have a dinosaur class that a teacher goes out in advance and buries bones and the kids go out and have a dinosaur dig," said Thurston.

“I think it’s very important to keep them reading and working on their math, don't just slide backwards, you work so hard to improve their reading skills and then you don't want to lose that all summer long," said Hughes.

The specialist also recommends parents have their kid’s select five books to read throughout summer.

The Books in the Park program runs June 15 and 29th and July 13th and 27th. It is located at 10th Street Park in Altoona, and Mocha Joe, a therapy dog, will be there to listen to kids read.

Kids also can have summer reading mentors, which is provided by the Altoona School District. It involves volunteers delivering books to student homes throughout the summer.


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  • by Eau Really Location: Former EC on May 24, 2012 at 10:15 AM
    What's wrong with giving the kids a summer break? Why not get them into a sports program over the summer? Maybe that would help with the childhood obesity problem.
    • reply
      by Julie on May 24, 2012 at 12:29 PM in reply to Eau Really
      You should check out the classes in Summer Institute before dismissing it. They do have SPORTS like flag football, biking, lawn games...and HOBBIES like scrapbooking and chess. A lot of academic skills can be part of sports, games and hobbies - which is also a lot of what summer is all about. Plus, some kids really enjoy things like math and reading. My kids LOVE these classes!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 24, 2012 at 03:01 PM in reply to Eau Really
      Personally I feel summer break is just too long. By what I have experienced (from elementary all the way through college) is that it is too easy to fall out of the groove of learning. I was very successful in my college classes but when summer break came and went, I forgot most of what I learned! Take a look at nearly every single class that is taught and you will find the first few weeks (or months) is REVIEW from the previous class. How do we expect to excel when 10% of the time is wasted trying to relearn everything?
  • by Libby Location: UW-Eau Claire on May 24, 2012 at 06:58 AM
    At first glance, $85 might seem expensive. But if a child takes a full schedule of 3 classes, the total cost is just $255 for 2 weeks - which at $127.50 per week is less than most full-time child care options. The tuition credits that the Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls school districts provide make the program even more affordable. Eau Claire pays the tuition for one class, and Chippewa covers two classes for all children living in those school districts, even if they attend private schools or are homeschooled. We employ only licensed, experienced teachers, making the quality of our instruction very high. Considering those factors, we feel the program is a good value.
  • by seriously $85 on May 24, 2012 at 03:35 AM
    ok i get that keep theirs mind active part but when is it worth 85? for only two weeks?????? dumb. if you do it, do it til school starts again. if ya dont use it, ya lose it. its called being human. summer is their break from learning...
    • reply
      by Anon on May 24, 2012 at 09:18 AM in reply to seriously $85
      Wouldn't be $85.00 if Scott Walker wasn't Governor. It's his fault!
    • reply
      by Shelley on May 25, 2012 at 08:34 AM in reply to seriously $85
      "..keep theirs mind active" ?? Maybe YOU should have taken some summer classes!! Seriously though, my children have enjoyed every session of Summer Institute and the cost is MUCH cheaper than day care. My kids get to have fun while learning and I get to save some money...its a win-win for us!
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