For many students, summer represents a time to build upon classroom knowledge by extending oneself academically in a summer learning program. Choosing the right summer learning program for your child can be difficult, as programs vary not only in focal topics, but also in length, size, and quality. Taking your child’s interests and academic strengths into account, as well as consulting other parents whose students have gone through programs of interest in previous summers, is a great way to begin narrowing down your search for an appropriate summer learning program. To narrow your search even further, consider the following list of summer learning programs:
For elementary school students:
This unique camp combines STEM concepts with fun activities, like building and writing a code for your own robot, to help kids find practical application for concepts they’ve learned in school. Many parents and teachers have noticed that the first few weeks of the regular school year are often dedicated to re-teaching concepts that had been taught in previous years. Camp Invention, as well as other hands-on camps, help to connect students with practical, tactile uses for the science and math principles learned in school, and in doing so help prevent the necessity of re-teaching in the fall.
Like many other universities and university systems, Hunter College Campus Schools provides quality instruction to elementary-aged children throughout the summer. More than a program aimed at bridging the gap between one academic year and another, enrichment programs such as this one seek to academically challenge students in non-competitive environments. At Hunter, for example, students are enrolled in a well-rounded curriculum that touches upon more advanced and nuanced topics than they are used to and does not include any homework or formal assessments. Enrolling your child in this or a similar program may not only prevent summer learning “loss,” but may also boost his or her present knowledge.
For middle school students:
Education Unlimited offers several intensive, short camps focused on a variety of academic and vocational topics tailored to middle school students. From public speaking, to science for girls, to mock trial, these camps aim to nurture the emerging interests of this age group. This allows your child to delve deeper into an interest of his or hers and to associate that interest to what he or she has already learned in the classroom with camps, such as those offered by Education Unlimited, that connect the academic to vocational skills.
Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth offers several summer programs for middle schoolers at U.S. universities as well as abroad in Hong Kong. These summer programs are academic camps, offering enrichment and interdisciplinary thinking often absent from typical middle school curriculums. Along with their higher thinking, the camps, which are held on college campuses, offer the perks of higher educational facilities—namely fully-loaded labs, athletic facilities, technologically-equipped classrooms, and dorm rooms for a first look at the college experience. The camps are immersive and may challenge your student to think in tandem with his or her peers to solve complex problems and to tackle academic concepts above grade level.
For high school students:
Like many other colleges, New York University offers a summer ‘precollege program’ to high school students. In addition to getting a taste of college life by choosing a ‘major’ and living in dorms, these types of programs can help high school students earn college credit and build their college resumes. These programs are often longer in length than the on-campus ones offered to middle schoolers and are also more truly college courses (as opposed to simplified interdisciplinary explorations) than those offered to younger kids.
The New York County District Attorney’s Office High School Internship Program (and similar programs)
In the fall of senior year of high school, student will have to start answering questions about what they would like to do in the future. Using the summer to explore potential careers through internships available to high school students is a valuable summer learning experience. Several reputable employers, such as the New York County District Attorney’s Office, offer several-week peeks into potential careers. Completing an occupational internship may help direct your student as he or she begins to apply to colleges and research potential majors.
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