Online Summer Camps for Kids
By Tracey Dowdy
According to research by Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, students lose 2.6 months of Math and reading skills over the summer months. Compounding the problem and expanding the achievement gap is the fact that low-income students have less access to academic and life enriching opportunities like visiting museums, national parks, art galleries or traveling. Finding creative ways to close the gap and prevent that slide is one of the reasons Virtual Summer Camps are becoming so popular.
Instead of the solitary-staring-at-the-screen experience you may be picturing, these camps offer interactive projects, activities and learning, and some include an actual camp counselor who will work with your child throughout the program. There are free and fee-based options available that cover reading, math, and science, art, languages and much more so no matter the interest, there’s a camp for that.
Reading Rockets summer reading program is “Start with a Book.” Choose from 24 different topics such as: Weather; Stars, Planets and the Night Sky; Nature; Time and Travel. Each book has been carefully chosen to be engaging and educational with supplemental writing, vocabulary, and word play activities.
Free – Ages 6+
DIY is designed to encourage hands-on learning through a series of “challenges.” Kids can use Lego to create new projects, learn to cook, create Minecraft content, or produce and star in their own concert as well as develop more traditional skill sets like math, business and engineering skills. Some of the courses have a counselor who will coach kids through their challenges and kids can earn embroidered patches (think Boy/Girl Scouts) for each completed challenge.
Free and fee based – Ages 7+.
Brain Chase brands itself as “America’s #1 Summer Learning Event,” engaging kids from around the world in a massive academic treasure hunt. Kids choose three electives from eleven categories like Math, Writing, Engineering, or even Yoga and have six weeks to complete their objectives. All of the material is top notch – for example the language elective uses Rosetta Stones and offers 30 different language modules. The first student to discover the location of the real-world buried treasure wins a flight to its location and a $10,000 scholarship.
$79 – Ages 7-14.
Camp Wonderopolis encourages kids to “Explore. Imagine. Laugh. Share. Create. Learn. Smile. Grow.” Created by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), focuses on interactive STEM and literacy-building topics by increasing vocabulary, scientific knowledge, reading comprehension, and critical thinking skills. The summer 2017 program focuses on engineering and construction and incorporates indoor and outdoor activities. (Free for campers – parents can choose to purchase a $25 instruction guide. Ages 7+).
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.