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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ways to keep your kids learning during the summer

School will be out soon and it’s important to keep our kids minds active during the summer. Here are some ways that I have been able to keep my two girls ages 8 and 9 learning while schools out. I try and make summer learning fun.

One of the places we like to start our summer off is at our public library. We go there to find out what programs are offered during the summer. The library is a great place to keep your children engaged in reading because of some of the incentives they offer to the kids for reading.  It is free to get a library card and your child can have their very own card. I know my girls love having their own card to check out books. If you haven’t been to a public library lately, most have a special section of the library for younger children with computers and crafts.

Each library has unique programs for students over the summer.  Most public libraries in Pinellas County run their programs from June 15th - August 9th.  A weekly program during the summer at Seminole Community Library is the reading with the dogs program. “This is where students are one on one with therapy dogs. Last summer it was very successful,” said Jill Storm, Youth Services Supervisor at Seminole Community Library.
One of my girl’s favorite programs in the past at the Seminole Library has been the Wonderful Wednesdays. This is where each week special guests come entertain the kids. In the past there have been magicians, balloon artists, musicians and more.

 Elementary school students who enjoy science can try e-magination which is where students get to do hands-on science experiments and have fun doing crafts. For the younger kids ages 3-6, on Monday nights at 7 p.m. there’s Slumber Stories, where children can come in their pajamas and read stories and do a craft.

Another great way to keep kids reading over the summer is with the Reading with the Rays program. Kid can pick up their Reading with the Rays game card at the library. Your kids will need to read a certain number of hours each week and as they read they move around the bases. After the get around all of the bases, they can turn their playing card in for a free ticket to a Rays game. My girls have done this the past few years and knowing they get to go to a Rays game if they read is fun for them.

If you are looking for camps to send your kids to, there are several that are fun and geared toward learning. St. Petersburg College, College for Kids Summer Camp offers unique summer programs starting June 9th  and running through August 1st.  College for kids has been around for 36 years. I remember going when I was a kid. They offer affordable camps for kids in elementary, middle and high school. What’s nice about this is you have credentialed teachers and there are nine different locations throughout Pinellas County where the camps are held.

 They also have before and after care. For incoming 10-11th graders there is a weeklong camp offered for free called Career Pathways Academy. This helps students think about career choices. or call 727-341-3000.
Another fun camp in Seminole is Bauder Elementary School’s 13th annual Summer Science Camp. This is a weeklong camp from July 14th-17th . It is hands-on science activities, computer technology and arts and crafts. This is for K-5th grade and runs from 8:30 a.m to 3:30 p.m. Bauder teachers are the camp counselors.  If you are interested call Bauder’s office at 727-547-7829.

University of South Florida’s Continuing Education offers beginning reading programs throughout the county. Students meet once a week for five weeks for two hours. The cost for these classes is around $350 including materials.  You can find out more at or call 1-800-978-9596.

If you want to have your kids do some learning at home on the computer, the Pinellas County School Board’s web site offers quite a few learning programs on their web site. It is called Beyond the Classroom. “Our expectation is that students will spend a minimum of 30 minutes each week during the summer for grades K-2 and 60 minutes grades 3-5 in each application on the Beyond the Classroom web site. The purpose is to extend their learning from the school year,” said Pat Lusher, Director of Digital Learning for Pinellas County Schools.
 Lusher says students will need to have their Pinellas County School student username and password to log in. “Some of the most common sites are Ticket to Read, ST Math, FCAT Explorer and,” said Lusher. This summer they will be adding a program for students to check out eBooks on their mobile devices or computers at home from several of their digital libraries. It’s called My Digital Backpack. There will be incentives for student participation to encourage students to become fluent readers.

Even though students are on summer vacation, make sure they don’t take a break from learning. Kids can have fun and learn at the same time.

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