Op-Ed: It’s Time for Summer Leisure and Learning

Schools Chancellor Carmen FariñaBy NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña

Summertime brings opportunities to cheer on friends at neighborhood baseball games, visit a local playground or community pool, venture to the beach or enjoy a block party.  After a school year full of hard work, leisurely activities are important for us all. As parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and caretakers we must also encourage innovative and fun ways to continue learning this summer.

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Time and time again, researchers and advocates attribute some of the achievement gap to summer learning loss. Students can lose months of academic knowledge during the summer, impacting our most vulnerable communities. As caretakers, we must build a drum-beat of reading, writing, and exploring. A great way to start is by checking out NYC Reads 365 or asking your child’s teacher for a summer reading list.

New York City’s cultural institutions offer children and teens a wide range of either low-cost or free summer activities during the long summer days. I enjoy visiting the American Museum of Natural History and The New York Hall of Science with my grandchildren and learning with them. They love robotics and STEM, which can provide countless hours of enjoyment while developing their critical thinking and analytical skills in a creative way. 

A museum, Botanical Garden, zoo, historical burial ground, or public library are all great ways to explore your child’s interests, get extra support, and help them retain what they learned during the school year.

Setting aside time for daily independent reading and writing during down time at a family vacation or before heading to a playdate can make all the difference and help cultivate and foster a child’s imagination. In my role as a grandmother, I am insistent that my grandchildren write or read daily– no matter where we are or what we are doing on that particular day, I carve out time for learning.

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In one way or another, as parents and caretakers we play a vital role and have so much to offer that can inspire our children.  Some of my most treasured memories include listening to my father’s stories about his native country Spain. He would weave his real life experiences with a war-torn country which ignited my passion for reading and led me to where I am today. I strive to channel my father’s love for storytelling with my own grandchildren, which always ends with fruitful and candid conversations of the world we live in today.

Showing our children the fruits of being a lifelong learner can also be a transformative way to lead by example. We can also continue or restart our own education through the DOE’s Office of Adult and Continuing Education (OACE) where there is a variety of basic education and vocational classes for adults over the age of 21. During the summer months hundreds of classes for adults will be available completely free of charge. For more information stop by any of our Registration locations or visit http://oacenyc.org/.

Teaching our kids to value reading and writing purely for oneself, to encounter new worlds, to learn new information, and to be inspired will lead to a greater success in school and beyond. So whether it’s for you, your children or a nephew, learn about the fun summer learning opportunities in your community, borough, and city.  Have a fun and safe summer!

Here are just a few family friendly resources and places to visit this summer free of charge:

The African Burial Ground National Monument
https://www.nps.gov/afbg/index.htm

Socrates Sculpture Park
http://www.nycgo.com/museums-galleries/socrates-sculpture-park

The National Museum of the American Indian
http://nmai.si.edu/visit/newyork/

Brooklyn Children’s Museum (free every Thursday, 12-2 pm)
http://www.brooklynkids.org/

NYC Reads 365
http://schools.nyc.gov/Academics/NYCReads365

New York Public Library – Summer Reading Challenge 2016
http://www.nypl.org/events/summer/reading-challenge

For a full list of museums that are either always free, free on specific days of the week or free for select hours visit http://www.nycgo.com/articles/free-nyc-museums

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