Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Summer break is great time to continue learning

By the Advocate Editorial Board
June 30, 2014 at 1:30 a.m.

Summer vacation is a time students look forward to. It's a time of relaxation, road trips and freedom.

However, that freedom comes at a price. While students are out of the classroom for more than two months, thinking about anything but what they learned in the classroom last year, many lose some of the knowledge they gained during the previous school year, which can lead to time spent in the classroom reviewing instead of learning new information and concepts. A survey from the National Summer Learning Association that included responses from 500 teachers across the nation showed that 66 percent of teachers must spend three to four weeks reteaching students material from the previous year.

This information is disappointing but not totally unexpected. However, students in Victoria have options available this summer to prevent this and encourage new learning outside the classroom while still having a good time.

We were inspired by the story of Brandi Ramirez, a Victoria mother who emphasizes the importance of learning and retention during the summer with her three sons, two of whom are students, and the third is 1 year old. In previous years, Ramirez has created activities focused on developing skills her children were struggling with. Her sons also go to the library once every two weeks, and she reads to her youngest and is compiling books for him as well.

Ramirez's efforts to encourage her children to keep learning and developing important skills every day is an admirable example for all parents. It can be easy to treat summer as a time for vacation and relaxation, but the truth is that people never stop learning. The question is, what do we learn? By encouraging children to keep pursuing knowledge and finding ways to direct a child's natural curiosity toward necessary skills, parents can become part of the education process and inspire their children to achieve excellence in school and for the rest of their lives.

If parents need some help searching for inspiration and activities to keep their children learning, Victoria has options available. One program is the Victoria Adult Literacy Council's Family Literacy In Practice Summer Reading Tour. Employees and members of VALC will go to summer camps at The Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA at Pinnacle Pointe to read to the children and hand out books. The council hopes to encourage children who might not normally have a chance to visit the public library to read over the summer by helping to build a collection of books at home. VALC will be at the Boys and Girls Club from 10 to 10:45 a.m. Tuesdays through July 8 and the YMCA at Pinnacle Pointe from 9 to 9:45 a.m. Wednesdays through July 9.

More options can be found for older students in summer camps offered by the Victoria Independent School District. The district is offering a variety of camps for students in middle and high school, including classes on guitar, photography, ceramics and video game design. Many of the camps have past, but the guitar camp and a beginners ceramics camp begin July 14. The district is also offering a variety of transition camps in addition to sports training camps at individual schools.

We applaud all of the efforts in the community to help students continue learning throughout summer vacation. We realize these are just a few of the programs available and encourage parents to look around for any available opportunities to further their children's education, whether it be at home, in camps or through activities that inspire them. Education is too important to let it slip away during time off. With a little effort, parents can help their children retain much more and be better prepared for the coming school year.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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