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Reading and math learning should not rest during summer break. Here are some options to keep kids learning in LA.

Esmeralda Fabián Romero | June 26, 2017

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A mother and her son participating in the learning program Passport to Success at the Los Angeles Public Library last week. (Courtesy: Families in Schools)

Parents who model reading at home can help their children from falling into a “summer slide” during the long break, says award-winning East LA teacher Joshua Martinez.

Martinez laid out a series of tips for parents in a recent interview with LA School Report. His fourth-grade class at KIPP Raíces Academy is 100 percent Latino, and 90 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Martinez was recently awarded the 2017 Fishman Prize, which recognizes the nation’s most effective teachers working in high-needs public schools.

5 things you can do to keep kids learning during the summer:

  1. Visit public libraries.
  2. Visit museums or participate at community events.
  3. Read with your children at home every day.
  4. Find a nearby school that has a summer program.
  5. Practice math with your kids by following a cooking recipe or adding prices at the supermarket.


Martinez recognizes that even though it’s easy for parents to let their kids spend more time in front of the TV or playing with a tablet, learning skills should not be “on break.” Research shows that the consequences of putting reading and math activities on hold during the summer can lead to losing nearly two months of competency in reading and more than 2.5 months in math.

“Parents can model how daily reading looks when they’re at home, either just reading a newspaper, a book, or a magazine. Having reading as family time where they have time to read and discuss is really important. It doesn’t have to be only in English, but it can also be in Spanish,” Martinez said.

“I also think that talking to the kids about stories whether from movies or books, it’s important to get them to think about what happens in stories and why, pushing them for a higher order of thinking, and ask them to evaluate stories.”

He said it is also important to practice math as much as possible during the summer.

“Find ways to challenge your kids to make math problems, like try to add numbers while parents are shopping at the store, online math games, math facts practice. They must challenge their kids’ brains.”

Martinez also said that summer can be a good time to expand learning by visiting museums, going to the park, being active and exercising. Most importantly, he said, spend more time at the local library and take advantage of their many reading activities.

LA Unified is partnering with the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) system this summer, encouraging students to read at least 100 minutes a week over their summer break through the Summer Reading Challenge program. The challenge includes a special log for students to record the books they read and the school they attend.

LAPL has compiled a list of dozens of books recommended for readers at all skill levels from preschool to high school as well as other summer programs for youth. More information on the Summer Reading Challenge program can be found here.

Families in Schools is running its annual Passport to Success “Making Summer Learning Fun” campaign, which provides families with a bilingual (English/Spanish) learning kit to explore libraries, museums, and cultural events across Los Angeles throughout the summer.

(Courtesy: Families in Schools)

Families that participate in Passport to Success receive a “passport” (stamp book), a resource guide (map), and a weekly newsletter with information about museums, community events, and other activities. They also can get additional summer learning tips. Parents can register by visiting this website.

Other services that LA Unified will be offering are:

High school 2017 summer term  

Students who were enrolled in LA Unified high schools during the 2017 spring semester and who need to recover credits for D or F grades are eligible to enroll in up to two classes at any of the 72 high school summer term sites. Here is a list of participating schools.

Academic support at select middle and elementary schools

The Extended Learning Opportunity Summer Program helps children in elementary and middle school grades meet grade-level standards in English language arts or mathematics standards.

Comprehensive summer enrichment programs

The district’s Beyond the Bell Branch will operate summer enrichment programs at more than 200 elementary and middle schools during the summer vacation period.

A complete list of summer programs by school can be found here.

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