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News | June 7, 2010

Keeping Kids Engaged with Summer Resources from ReadWriteThink.org


Studies show that children can lose a significant amount of academic progress over the summer—a setback that’s even more serious for struggling and low-achieving learners.

Enter summer learning programs. When a balanced calendar (year-round schooling) is not an option, programs that marry lively activities with academics can help to keep children on track.

One such program is offered through Verizon Thinkfinity—a free educational website that  provides standards-based lesson plans, learning activities for use both in and out of the classrooms, educational games, and downloadable educational tools for teachers, parents, and after-school and summer-learning instructors.

Through Thinkfinity.org visitors also can connect to the Thinkfinity Community (community.thinkfinity.org), an online community for educators, administrators and parents to discuss ideas, share thoughts and provide insight.

“Summer learning loss is one of those silent destroyers,” says Browne. “When competing with warm weather and outdoor activities, parents need easy access to educational resources that will keep their child excited about learning. We want to take what's in the news and bring it together with solid lesson plans, to make learning more fun. Our summer programming will reflect this . . . and will give teachers and parents more tools to reduce the trajectory of summer learning loss.” 

ReadWriteThink.org, sponsored by NCTE and the International Reading Association (IRA), is one such Thinkfinity content partner; it specializes in producing instructional materials in English language arts and reading.

“ReadWriteThink.org's resources for out-of-school learning, including summer and after-school activities, are consolidated in one section of the site where parents and providers will find activities, printouts, podcasts, interactive games, tools and tips,” says Lisa Storm Fink, project manager for ReadWriteThink at NCTE. “Each resource has been reviewed by at least two consultants in out-of-school literacy to ensure the materials reflect best practice and will work in out-of-school settings.”

Thinkfinity’s summer resources are intended for children and families from all backgrounds; those who don’t have computers at home can access the free Thinkfinity materials through public libraries and community programs. Families of children or teens who have the advantage of home access—who have “an iTouch in their right pocket and a netbook in their backpack,” as Browne puts it—may find that they can “leverage” technology so that their kids are spending more of their home time engaged in learning activities as well.

But whether students are accessing activities from home, library, school, or community center, they’ll be both challenged and entertained, and if Al Browne’s prediction is accurate, they’ll want to return to the site again and again.

Check out more information about Verizon Thinkfinity and ReadWriteThink.org's summer learning programs here.