This is the first full week of summer vacation for our San Francisco public school students. But it doesn’t mean the learning stops. In fact, it’s crucial that children keep learning throughout the summer months.

Because, if they don’t, they have a hard time getting back up to speed in the fall. In fact, most children even lose some of the skills they spent all year developing even when they go just a couple months without practicing them. This is called summer learning loss and it’s real.

A new kind of summer school

Good news! Schools across the City are open for arts enrichment programs, career exploration, credit recovery, college-level courses (called “early college”), Math acceleration courses and more. There are choices for students of all ages.

Most programs have already closed their registration period, but I encourage parents to take advantage of the many opportunities still available. For starters, the public library and Rec and Park have lots of great drop-in summer learning activities.

Good practice

I’m a basketball fan as well as an educator. I love watching the Warriors. We know that each and every one of those players’ no-look passes and three-pointers didn’t just magically happen at gametime. Teams practice, drill, play a game … and then practice some more.

It’s the same for math, English and pretty much everything else. And the good news is, kids are natural learners. So, even though our children are not in the classroom right now, they are ready to keep learning. Here are just a few ideas.

Read all about it

Speaking of basketball, do you have any Warriors fans at your house? Pick up a free Examiner and leave the sports section open on the breakfast table. Kids are already interested in their sports’ heroes, so reading about them won’t feel like work.

Pop-up science

Children often ask how things are made. How about having them figure it out? Take some healthy, low sugar juice, some paper cups and popsicle sticks. Have your child pour juice into the cups and place them in the freezer. Set the timer for an hour or so and have your child check the juice cups and place popsicle sticks into the semi-frozen juice. Keep checking until the juice is solid.

But wait! Before they enjoy their homemade treat, ask your child to come up with answers to why the juice became a solid? Why do you have to wait to put the stick in?

The idea is to get them in the habit of making guesses as to why something happened, and repeating the process to notice even more, a key part of science. You may have a budding chef, engineer or physicist on your hands.

It’s not just fun – it’s important

I can’t wait to see our students back in school on August 20 and to hear all about what they learned over the summer.

Keep learning

Be sure to check out all the free and low-cost summer learning options offered by the City and community organizations at www.sfkids.org

Keep eating

Every weekday from June 7 to August 17, 2018, anyone under the age of 18 can receive a free lunch and/or a free snack at about 100 sites throughout San Francisco. Find out more at sfusd.edu

The Superintendent’s Column will return on August 13, a week before students return to school on August 20.

Vincent Matthews
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Vincent Matthews

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