Some students may look forward to doing nothing all summer, but teachers and parents often have other ideas.
Years of research has shown students experience learning losses when they don't engage in educational activities over the summer, according to the National Summer Learning Association, an independent organization that provides resources, guidance and expertise to help stop the so-called "summer slide."
Area parents say they've been keeping their childrens' minds sharp over the summer with fun and educational activities, including reading, trips to museums and zoos and workbooks.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Marietta resident Lincy Kuncheriah, second from right, reads with her children, from left, Micaiah, Elijah and Keziah Friday at the Washington County Public Library. The family often visits the library during their summer break from home schooling.
"We go to the library about once a week," said Waterford resident Stephanie Greene, 32, whose 6-year-old son Dalson is making the transition from pre-kindergarten at
Marietta Christian School to
kindergarten at Waterford Elementary.
Belpre - Aug. 22.
Fort Frye - Thursday.
Frontier - Aug. 22.
Marietta - Aug. 23.
Warren - Aug. 28.
Wolf Creek - Aug. 22.
Wood County - Aug. 23.
In addition to reading, Greene said Dalson have done workbooks and other "brain and mind" activities over the last couple of months. While Dalson said reading might not be his first choice for a summer activity, his mom said she doesn't usually have to twist his arm to get him - or his 3-year-old brother Austin - to crack open a book on certain subjects.
"They like animals, animals and science," she said.
The National Summer Learning Association says on its website, www.summerlearning.org, that studies have shown most students lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in their math skills over the summer. While middle-class students make slight gains in reading, low-income students lose more than two months in the same area.
Another study indicates that unequal access to summer learning opportunities accounts for more than half the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth, the website says.
In addition to the free access to reading materials it offers residents year-round, the Washington County Public Library provides additional activities in the summer at no cost.
"It's very important because they really lose a lot of what they learned during the school year," said Julie Stacy, manager of youth services at the library.
For the summer reading program, students turn in lists of books they've read in exchange for prizes, including free books. This year, about 350 students ages 2 to 12 (the younger ones can have parents or others read books to them) and 140 free books had been given out as of Friday.
Reading over the summer can do more than maintain a student's reading level, Stacy said.
"A lot do advance," she said. "They come in, and they start with a first-grade-level Easy Reader book, and by the end of the summer they've moved up to a second-grade level."
The library has also been offering Marietta City Schools elementary students the chance to earn Accelerated Reader points by taking tests on books with devices on loan from the district over the summer instead of waiting until school resumes.
Amber Pellett, 31, of Marietta, said her three daughters, who attend Phillips Elementary, have racked up a lot of Accelerated Reader points over the summer.
"I think reading really helps with math and social studies and science also," she said.
Although Marietta resident Lincy Kuncheriah, 34, home-schools her children, they follow a similar calendar to public and private schools, including a summer break. And she wants to make sure their minds stay active during that period.
"I try to keep some type of reading, writing over the summer ... so they don't go into hibernation for three months," Kuncheriah said.
Of course, reading isn't the only way for children to keep learning over the summer. Kuncheriah said she plans to take her children on a hike soon to talk about nature, and Pellett said her family visited Campus Martius Museum to look over the new Civil War exhibit.
Marietta resident Chris Hartline, 50, purchased summer workbooks for her daughter Lindsey, an incoming fifth-grader at Putnam Elementary, to use to keep up her skills over the break.
"It covers everything," Hartline said. "It's grade-appropriate."
The workbooks have been a popular item at A-Z Learning Supplies on Ohio 7 south of Marietta, said owner Bobbi Davis. They've had to reorder them several times.
In addition to helping students stay active academically over the summer, educators recommend parents take some steps to make the transition from summer to school a little smoother.
"I would start waking them up a little earlier, start sorting out supplies," said Marietta Middle School Principal Will Hampton, who said this is the time of year he starts limiting his own children's late-night activities like sleepovers. "Just start tuning up for school."
Kelly Roe, an intervention specialist for students with learning disabilities at Harmar Elementary School, said a parent's attitude about the start of school can be reflected by their children.
"My opinion is we as parents should speak positively about school and try to get them excited," she said.
But if their child is anxious about it, parents should pay attention.
"First listen to them and find out what their fear is stemming from," she said. "Just do your best to answer their questions."