SUMMER Continuing Education ~ 6 Apps to Activate the Love of Learning

 SUMMER SLIDESUMMER Continuing Education ~ 6 Apps to Activate the Love of Learning

Even if you don't know it by name, you're probably familiar with the "summer slide" by reputation. This is the term used to describe the two- to three-month "regression" that students tend to experience over the summer months — especially in their reading and mathematics skills. We've heard it a million times, but the brain needs to be worked as regularly as our muscles if we want to keep it (and our skills) sharp. Check out these resources that can help kids in continuing their education over the summer with these 6 apps that activate the love of learning! That goes double for kids. Summer vacations can be fun, but they can really set the clock back on developing brains if we're not keeping their love of learning activated all summer long. Here's a look at six apps for doing just that, whether you're a parent, a teacher, a tutor or a mentor.

1. Timeline Eons

You don't have to be a history professor to benefit from a working knowledge of recent and ancient history! Aimed at encouraging self-driven exploration, "Timeline Eons" is one of the most comprehensive history apps, thanks to its coverage of both human and natural history. The app offers a pleasing and nearly limitless timeline of every notable event to happen on earth. The developers claim the full timeline is "thousands of times" longer than the real earth's circumference! Specific subject matter areas include human and natural history; American history; science and technology history; plus sports, arts, science, technology, architectural and cultural history. It's regularly praised for its ability to create a strong sense of historical context for users to truly get lost in. Plus, it's optimized as a mobile app and for desktop use.

2. Intro to Geography: World Edition

Let's continue with the theme of learning more about our place in the world. Kids and adults alike can benefit from the lessons contained in "Intro to Geography: World Edition." Built by Higher Ground, Inc., this app prioritizes spatial awareness (learning where countries sit in relation to one another), vocabulary building (country names and pronunciations) and a sense of world citizenship. After learning to identify capitals by name and national flags on sight, kids and young adults will be ready to participate in more complex classes and discussions with a knowledge of the fundamentals. For every new geography challenge bested, users of the app receive a stamp in their digital world passport to mark their progress. The app supports English-language learners plus six other languages.

3. Swift Playground

Steve Jobs was on record saying we should be teaching kids to code. It's appropriate that it was Apple that introduced "Swift" — a mobile-ready programming language that's rewarding to learn and provides skills that are applicable to other coding languages. The "Swift Playgrounds" app by Apple teaches coding through interactive lessons and can even incorporate the student's device's Bluetooth connection to control robots, drones, and other hardware accessories and peripherals. In addition to being the programming language used to create iOS apps, Swift contains concepts that are vital in the millions of new programming jobs appearing every year.

4. Khan Academy

Khan Academy is one of the largest and most comprehensive libraries of educational resources out there right now. You can think of it as having access to free classes for every grade level and every subject. It works as a desktop web or mobile app, and it provides a host of parental and educator tools so lesson plans can be tailored specifically for the learner. The "parent" account can call upon a selection of courses and reading material put together by professional educators and intended for students all the way from kindergarten to grade 12 and even early college. Combining online classes like these with other resources for high school students, like career counseling, can be a great way for students to find new interests and work toward subject matter expertise and eventual degrees and certifications.

5. Reading Street

As mentioned earlier, reading and mathematics skills tend to suffer the worst degradation during the summer slide. And make no mistake: it doesn't matter how bright your youngster is — every one of us can fall victim to skills loss when we're not actively working them out. "Reading Street" was designed with this in mind, and stands ready to help reinforce reading and vocabulary skills all summer long for students in grades 3 through 6. It's aligned with Common Core objectives, which means it's a great tool for introducing text complexity; teaching close reading; helping develop narrative, argumentative and informative writing skills; and delivering reading challenges and performance assessments. Intended for desktop and mobile use, it's great for educators and parents alike.

6. LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary School

We all know and love him from "Reading Rainbow," which gives LeVar Burton's "Skybrary School" instant credibility and appeal. This supplemental "reading service" (for kids or whole classes in K-3) includes carefully curated reading selections in various subject matter areas, vocabulary-building games, online field trips and interactive videos for deeper learning, and digital report cards so students can track their progress and improvement. It's from LeVar Burton Kids, so you know it's wholesome — and it's designed for those ages when kids are especially susceptible to the summer slide. With hundreds of full books available and lots of engaging ways to foster a love of reading, it's the perfect choice for keeping students reading during their summers out of the classroom.

Preventing the Summer Slide

It's worth repeating: the summer slide is no joke! But, even though this phenomenon might be a formidable challenge, it's far from an insurmountable one. The great thing about apps is that they can help parents and educators put screen time to better use during the summer and help keep kids' core skills and love of learning sharp and ready for more. When you combine screen time with these thoughtfully designed apps and periods of self-directed free-reading for your young'uns, don't be surprised when they're ready to hit the ground running again in the fall!  
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