Battling C. Oregon kids' summer learning loss

Advice given; Websites help conquer 'brain drain'

Parents can help head off summer 'brain drain'

BEND, Ore. - School's out for the summer. For some kids -- freedom.

For parents and teachers -- fear of the dreaded "summer slide."

"Summer learning loss is a problem, particularly with young children," said Bend-La Pine Schools Assistant Superintendent Lora Nordquist. "We actually see gaps from when students left in the spring, in terms of reading skills or math skills, and when they come back in the fall." 

Instead of being glued to the TV, summer can be a time for enriching trips, sports clubs, community service -- and reading, reading, reading.

"Research shows over and over again that if they don't continue reading all summer long, then they start school in the fall already behind those who were reading," aid Heather McNeil, youth services director for the Bend Public Library. "We want to keep reading a habit. We want to keep library visits a habit."

School officials offer this simple advice for parents -- take the kids to the local "lunch and learns" or to the public library.

But also find ways to incorporate educational themes into the activities you do at home on a daily basis, to keep your kids sharp.

"Making games with numbers -- counting things, counting by 2, counting backwards, measuring things, working things out in your head," Nordquist said. "I'm not talking about worksheets and games like that. I'm talking about fun, engaging, game-like activities that keep kids active, in terms of their thinking."

Nordquist says what makes summer so valuable is that children have the time and freedom to learn on their own terms, so they can see what interests and excites them.

From outdoor programs offered by Bend Parks and Rec. to baking at home and letting the kids measure the ingredients -- fighting the summer slack can actually be fun.

"Outdoor activities, family activities, as well as reading, and that's what we want for a healthy kid," McNeil said.

Looking for even more ideas to battle the brain drain? There's, the government's official website for children. There are activities for kindergartners through eighth graders, including games, crafts, projects and ideas for outdoor play during the summer.

And to put more e-books into the hands of more kids, the Oregon Department of Education has launched a new website as well.

At, more than 3,000 digital books are available for download -- for free to read and listen to Non-fiction makes up 70 percent of the collection,and there's even a large selection of Spanish or dual-language books.

The program runs through Sept. 15.

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