How Academic Summer Camps Keep Kids Learning

Published by Catherine Durkin Robinson on

When school lets out each summer, parents and kids enjoy a well-deserved break from their regular, school-year routine of studying and engaging in extracurricular activities, like tutoring, sports and enrichment programs. Though summertime offers an opportunity to relax, kids still need to keep their brains working. When they relax for too long and their brains slide into neutral, studies show they return to school with learning loss in the fall. Academic summer camps help keep this from happening. Read on to find out how. 

What’s the ‘Summer Slide’?

Summer learning loss, also known as the ‘summer slide,’ happens when students stop challenging themselves academically during the summer. This includes both learning and processing new information, and practicing what they’ve already learned. This type of learning pause places kids at least 2-3 months behind when school starts back up in the fall. 

But here’s the real crux of the issue: When students routinely lose knowledge during each consecutive summer, they end up with what often becomes a huge knowledge deficit over the course of their educational career. 

In fact, summer learning loss contributes to lower graduation rates in both high school and college. That leaves students scrambling to catch up with their peers – and at risk of dropping out.

Summer Camp Helps Prevent Learning Loss

Parents can do a lot to help keep their kids learning all summer. 

For example, make sure your kids have a library card and sign up for reading programs. Simple household routines such as grocery shopping, cooking and gardening encourage kids to read, follow directions and practice basic math skills. Check out local museums and zoos that allow students to attend for free or at a discounted rate. These all trigger learning during summer vacation. 

Academic camps near you also allow kids to enjoy their summer break, while continuing to learn. At KidzToPros (KTP), we make sure campers get what they need to exercise their minds daily in a dynamic environment that promotes growth, never stagnation. 

Here’s how we do it. 

1. We promote innovative ways to solve problems. 

The synapses in a child’s brain get fired up when they’re faced with new and unique challenges. During a KTP summer camp, campers face questions like:

  • How can you program a robot to perform simple tasks?
  • How do you build a website?
  • How do you realistically draw an ancient castle? 
  • How do you create a likable character? 
  • How do you make an audience laugh?

When kids get the opportunity to think outside the box, they learn there’s more than one right answer to most questions. They no longer fear failure, but rather see common struggles as pathways to greater success. Then they’re free to think up creative solutions to everyday problems. 

2. We understand the different ways kids learn. 

Every child can learn, but sometimes kids learn in different ways. One of the best things about KTP camps is the diverse ages, cultures and experiences that bring children with similar interests together. After all, summer camp is more than just typical classroom learning, but in warmer weather. 

Instead, it’s a chance for kids to choose their own passions, go at their own pace, and learn about what works for them, both in and out of the classroom. 

Toward this end, our instructors alter their teaching styles to fit the needs of each camper – not the other way around. We explore hands-on activities so campers learn more about coding, robotics, digital arts or improv comedy. Without pressure or stress, kids feel free to explore the world of knowledge and the part they want to play in that world. Sometimes more advanced campers take on leadership roles and help younger campers develop and grow. 

Group collaboration, independent work, cognitive learning through technology and hands-on learning via experience benefits all learners. Blending instruction styles provides different ways for campers to process information. They’ll use this self-knowledge when they return to school in the fall. 

3. KTP academic summer camps integrate knowledge. 

Camp activities take what kids already know and expand upon it to grow that knowledge base. Even our first-timers bring unique experiences and worldviews to camp. This helps them apply what they already know as they go through the program. 

For example, learning how to create a video game encourages children to use their knowledge as players. This experience allows them to better address complex problems and ways to solve them. Playing basketball calls on young athletes to make decisions as they encounter skilled players and attempt to outmaneuver them. Learning anime allows artists to think strategically about what they want to express in their characters’ faces and how best to do that. 

When the skills learned in KTP summer camps compliment what they do during school, campers won’t likely forget the lessons from either environment. This is especially helpful when preventing learning loss in summertime. 

4. We make sure kids get needed exercise. 

Physical activity helps kids do better in school. Getting campers into either individual or group sports ensures kids get that exercise in fun ways with other kids their age. Therefore, not only do their academic skills improve, so do their social and emotional skills. 

There’s no doubt about it, getting daily exercise creates a challenge during the school year. You’re running from work to school to sports to music –  and trying to make sure your kids eat healthy all day, too. Summer camp provides a perfect opportunity to get your kids moving and engaged outside throughout the day. 

For athletes, this provides a foundation for the significance of sports so they can continue with them all year long. 

5. We promote the whole child. 

KTP camps utilize hands-on learning with plenty of support and encouragement. At the same time, we want our campers to learn and create, while enjoying themselves. This happens as kids explore new interests and make new friends. They’re so busy enjoying the process, they don’t even realize they’re learning, cooperating, communicating and getting needed exercise, all at the same time! 

Summer Strong = School Year Strong

When kids spend their days in academic summer camps surrounded by innovations in STEM, arts and sports, they usually follow fun routines that keep their brains learning, such as:

  • Introduction to a new topic – or reinforcement of an old one, but in a brand new way
  • Assimilation of new knowledge and skills as they work in a specific area
  • Knowledge processing and project creation
  • Application of new knowledge to a desired outcome
  • Reflection after a project has been completed

Keep in mind, your kids also stay rooted in a healthy routine while at summer camp. They get up early every day and go to bed at a reasonable hour each night, which helps keep them in learning mode as well. 

Enroll your kids in a KTP academic camp near you. They’ll enjoy the summer, keep learning, and there’s a good chance they may even bypass their peers in the fall!