Seattle instructors to help parents stem kids' summer brain drain

May 15, 2013

Summer vacation may be fun, but research shows it wipes out about a month’s worth of learning. This weekend, Seattle schools officials will offer strategies to reduce summer learning loss.

Since kids are understandably wary of anything that makes summer break feel like school, the key is to make it fun, said Seattle Public Schools’ Bernardo Ruiz.

Ruiz, director of school and family partnerships for the district, says he’s helping organize a Saturday workshop for parents. SPS instructors will teach parents how to support their kids’ learning, ideally without making them miserable.

There are plenty of games, for example, that can help keep the knowledge fresh.

“They can play Scrabble, and that would really build the vocabulary of children at all ages,” Ruiz said.

Her said parents will learn where to find free math games and other resources online. And instructors will explain how to use each student’s Lexile score, a standardized measure of reading level.  

“Those scores can be taken to any Seattle Public Library, and they will be able to let the family know which are the books that are just right for that child,” he said.

Supporting summer learning is especially important for disadvantaged students, as research suggests the summer lag can make achievement gaps worse.

Ruiz says past workshops like this have drawn as many as 700 parents, and he expects similar attendance Saturday. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Garfield High School.