By Elke Hautala
No season conjures up visions of expectation quite like summer. Perhaps we’re all trying to relive a little of the simplicity of childhood. Perhaps we’re hoping to create new memories for the next generation. Perhaps we’re just looking for some relaxation.
Often times our to do list includes more time away from our constantly connected world for our families and ourselves. Sometimes a weekend unplugged is just what the doctor ordered to reset your brain. But don’t lock up your devices for the whole summer just yet.
“Summer Learning Loss” is a phrase that has been coined to describe just that – a loss of skills, knowledge or academics during the annual break. It even has it’s own Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_learning_loss
Johns Hopkins cites several studies discussing the importance of skill building during the summer. In some cases around two months of learning can be lost, particularly in math. They also have quite a few fun facts for history nerds such as myself about the evolution of what we now know as summer break.
For those firmly in the camp of wild and free summers spent playing outside or those shaking their heads thinking “my kid’s never going to go for that” – have no fear, enhanced learning can take many forms – even gaming.
Time to dust off the idea of a summer reading list. Why not update it with a virtual list using your Kindle, Nook or tablet device? Your child’s school may already have recommendations for summer reading or you can work with them to build one.
There actually are quite a few ways to immerse yourself into the e-book world – even for free. The Seattle Public Library is a great place to start and they have summer reading competitions for both kids and adults.
If you’re building your own list, check out Kindle’s free (or cheap) classics. They have everything from Oliver Twist for the budding tween thespian to Edgar Allen Poe for the Goth teenage musician.
If the term “Summer Camp” conjures up visions of bad 80s movies or brings back memories of warm kool aid and being picked last for Capture the Flag, it’s time to take another look.
There are too many to list here but chances are you can find something engaging for your offspring from the local publication Parent Map’s 2017 Golden Teddy Award Winners.
If you have a young person that prefers learning on their own, there are some amazing new apps out there to help facilitate any subject that they’re interested in.
Have a future world traveler in the family? Try duolingo. It’s gaming meets online lessons (and it’s free). “Earn points for correct answers, race against the clock, and level up.” You can find it for ios, Android and Windows with a wide selection of languages.
How about stargazing for the 21st Century? Vito Technology has come up with an interactive app called Star Walk for identifying celestial bodies. “It inspires curiosity about the Universe and helps users understand amazing cosmic phenomena.”
There’s even a virtual connection with Academia. Get involved with edX and you can really take your learning to the next level with programs at MIT, Harvard, Berkeley and more. It includes fascinating topics of interest to young adults and retirees alike from Virtual Reality App Development to Human Rights.
Now that you have a summer full of learning opportunities, you’re going to need a good connection – not just at home, but wherever the season’s activities may take you.
Xfinity WiFi Hotspots are the perfect way to play, learn and connect while on the go. You can even purchase an Access Pass if you aren’t currently a subscriber.
There’s a handy map to check for availability and you can download it as an app too. The app gives you optimized performance and enhanced security at hotspots around the country.
So take that time to commune with nature, pack the kids up for some time at the wading pool and drink ice tea in your backyard barefoot in the grass…
Now you can also learn Portuguese at your campsite, read Tale of Two Cities by the water and ask Alexa how far away the stars are. Technology can make this a summer that you truly won’t forget – whether you’re talking about knowledge, new skills or memories.