Free, low cost summer resources in Houston to prevent learning loss

In a "normal" year, learning loss experienced during summer break also known as the summer slide or brain drain is a top concern for educators.  

A study found kids in 3rd to 5th grade lose about 20 percent of school year gains in reading, and about 27 percent in math during summer break. 


Now, add the pandemic into the equation.

"For some of our children, we're looking to a year to two years of learning lag going on. So, it's almost going to be this Herculean effort to get our kids back to success," said Dr. Bob Sanborn, CEO, Children at Risk

He estimates, in some school districts, about 20 percent of children in virtual learning did not log on or engage.

"We measured during that Spring part of the pandemic and we saw significant loss -- up to a 12 point decline in terms of where a lot of our kids were going. We anticipate that number will just have expanded during the [2020-2021] school year," Dr. Sanborn noted.

He adds 60 percent of school-aged children in Texas come from low-income families whose parents likely did not attend college. They are disproportionately impacted by learning loss during summer break and, now, the pandemic.


Tips to prevent the summer slide at home

Dr. Carrie Cutler with the University of Houston College of Education shares 5 simple and free things parents or caregivers can do with students at home.

1. Read at least 20 minutes a day. Dr. Cutler recommends implementing a family reading time when everyone puts away electronic devices and reads.

2. Use math and reasoning skills to tackle daily tasks. Dr. Cutler says, for example, if your family is planning a vacation, have the child conduct a survey to see what family members want to do and have him/her organize the results into a graph. Another example, she says could be timing and prioritizing chores. 

3. Engage the child in writing with purpose. "Whether it's thank you letter for a gift or a list of chores," Dr. Cutler suggests. 

4. Play outside. She notes the more places, experiences, and conversations the child can reference will helps to learn. 

5. Ask the child to choose a passion project. "Talk to them about what they would like to learn this summer. The University of Houston has an awesome, free summer STEM camp for grades 6 through 9," she noted.

Resources and programs for summer learning

The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston

The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston is gearing up for a busy summer for kids 6 to 17. Their program will go beyond academic skills including sports, field trips, and daily meals for participants. 

The summer program begins on June 7th. The cost is $25. However, there are scholarships to cover the cost and it is free for those on the Texas Children Health plan and Community Health Choice plan.

Houston Independent School District

Click here for a list of resources and ideas for free activities 

Culture of Health - Advancing Together

CHAT Academy runs June 14-July 30

Pre K summer camp for 3-4-year-olds

The Health Museum
Summer camps for ages 5-13 years old, offered in-person and virtually

United Way of Greater Houston
United Way of Greater Houston has a database of summer programs