9 Ways to Keep K-12 Students Active Over Summer Break

27, Jun 2023 9:07 AM

Teachers On Demand helps 200+ school partners to extend students the resources they need to succeed. But what about when school’s out for the summer?

Against the backdrop of learning loss that has followed the Covid-19 pandemic, educators aim to use every opportunity to help K-12 students hit their learning goals. Here are some strategies schools can use to keep students’ spirits — and zest for learning — high, even when they’ve left the classroom.


1. Offer summer tutoring


Teachers On Demand offers a highly tailored program to help PK-12 students bridge learning gaps. Our expert tutor-educators can help students catch up to grade-level standards in mathematics, science, English, and more. Face-to-face and online tutoring is possible for both individuals and small groups in English and Spanish.

Work with our Director of Tutoring Services to connect your students with summer tutoring


2. Partner with community organizations


The same way you might partner with Teachers On Demand for tutoring services, schools can reach out to community organizations like sports clubs, recreation centers, and libraries to provide additional resources and opportunities for students over the summer. Consider sponsoring underserved students for local summer camps or sports leagues.


3. Organize sports competitions

Speaking of which, informal sporting events are a great way to attract students’ attention even during summer break. As of 2020, about 54.1% of children aged 6–17 years played sports, from tennis to soccer to track-and-field.

When students participate in sports, there are a number of positive social and health outcomes. For example, playing sports is connected with lower rates of stress, anxiety and depression and lower rates of substance abuse. Sporting activities can also help students feel more empowered, build teamwork and social skills, including time management and empathy.

Students in families with higher incomes are more likely to play organized sports. Schools can extend this opportunity to the whole student body by organizing low-stakes competitions on school grounds for students who may not attend camp or go on vacation.


4. Encourage a reading list


Though educators know how enjoyable and rewarding reading can be, reading is on the decline among American children. According to a recent study, the number of American 9- and 13-year-olds who say they read for fun on an almost daily basis are at their lowest levels since the mid-1980s. More young girls read for fun regularly than young boys.


There are a few ways to counteract this:

  • Connect with local libraries to share suggested reading lists
  • Connect with local libraries to give access to digital resources so students can read on any device they have
  • Challenge students to read a certain number of books over the break, with rewards for meeting their goals. You can also ask them to set reasonable goals for them
  • Ask your students to share the most interesting thing they learned that year, and find each one 1-2 books that go deeper
  • Overall, encourage students to choose books THEY enjoy, whether they’re beach reads, graphic novels, or biographies


5. Provide summer learning packets


In order to address the learning gap among younger learners, educators might put together an activity kit for summer break that includes engaging activities and worksheets.

Children can draw activities they do over summer break, write a descriptive account of a visit or event, or note down situations where they recognized a scientific concept they learned in school (like in the garden or at the zoo) — anything that draws upon knowledge of the previous year and sets students up for success in the upcoming year. 

Take a gander at these 70 easy science experiments children can do with common materials, like learning about supersaturated solutions by making their own rock candy or absorbing simple mechanical engineering by making their own cell phone stand.

6. Leverage technology


We’ve written a lot about the pros and cons of technology use, from phones to the metaverse to artificial intelligence in the classroom. Overall, we know that certain technologies are here to stay, and educators should make use of the benefits they offer for students by way of accessibility and engagement.


With parental supervision, educators can encourage students to:

  • Visit science and technology exhibits that allow them to try out new technologies, like virtual reality
  • Use activity or gaming apps that help them reach a learning goal, like Erase All Kittens
  • Journal their summer experiences using a blogging website
  • Create a photo collage that chronicles their summer activities
  • Program a simple computer game using a tool like Scratch



7. Promote environmental education


K-12 schools play a fundamental role in creating new generations of environmental stewards. There are many benefits to environmental education, from getting kids off their screens to helping them meet academic standards for problem-solving and critical thinking, to preparing them for job opportunities in sustainability after graduation. Dive into our full blog about environmental education to learn more.


Educators can still encourage students to think about the environment while school’s out of session. For example,

  • Ask children to gather natural objects for back-to-school projects
  • Host a charity bike ride
  • Organize volunteers to start or work on the school garden
  • Organize volunteers to keep existing school plants and compost bins healthy
  • Encourage kids to set a summer goal — like reducing water or plastic use — and track their habits to report in the fall


8. Involve students’ families


Studies have shown that some parents don’t realize how persistent learning loss is in the wake of the pandemic. Others know their children are struggling and aren’t sure how to help. 

To help mitigate student learning loss and to ensure students stay safe online and access fun opportunities that schools make available, it’s critical to keep parents in the loop about the why and how.

Schools can engage parents by sharing newsletters, creating online communities, or hosting parent workshops in advance of summer break.


9. Recognize student achievements once they return


Some students may be resistant to completing school activities during the summer break, which is why it’s important to have a plan. Let students know their active participation and accomplishments will be celebrated once school is back in session. For example, you might organize a beginning-of-year event where students can showcase their projects and share their experiences with teachers, parents, and fellow students.


An ideal learning environment for summer


K-12 students are more in need of their schools’ support than ever. By keeping students active over summer break, schools can set them up for a successful return to the classroom in the fall. 


Want to engage qualified private tutors for your students? Learn more now.