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Editorial: Keep children learning all summer long

Albert Lea Area Schools has been on summer break now for about three weeks. Although some students are attending summer school with a goal to maintain or improve their academic skills, a majority of students are not and may experience something called summer slide.

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, summer slide is a phenomenon where young people lose academic skills and wellness during the summer break.

“On average, students in low-income households lose two months of reading skills and all students lose more than 2 1/2 months of math skills over the summer,” the department states.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, by the fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave low-income students 2 1/2 to three years behind their peers.

What can be done to lessen this slide?

We remind parents, grandparents and other caregivers to remember that you don’t have to go to a formal setting like a school to learn. In fact, summer is a great time to help children learn to be creative or to experience through nature.  Not all learning has to be done with pencil and paper in hand. There are many places in our community to learn, including in your own home.

• The Albert Lea Public Library offers a summer reading program both for young children and teenagers, including hands-on activities, prizes for reading books and other educational presentations. The best thing about them: They are free.

• Albert Lea Community Education offers various classes for children and adults alike to learn new things. The catalog can be found online at albertleacommunityed.registryinsight.com. Check out the equipment at the Brookside Boathouse near the boat landing for more experiential learning.

• In addition to fun outdoor activities, the Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Department often offers many arts opportunities for children to get their creative juices flowing. Opportunities can be found on the city’s website and again are free.

• Don’t underestimate the impact a parent or loved one can have on a child simply by letting them see you learn or see you snuggle up with a good book. Let them see that reading is fun and enjoyable and consider reading a book together.

Above all, don’t forget to make learning fun.