It’s that time of year again: summer vacation! And while there are still many lazy days ahead to enjoy, it is also a great time to balance out those days with a plan for how to avoid the dreaded “summer brain drain.”

The importance of keeping the brain active and learning during the summer doesn’t just apply to students – teachers can also plan to get some learning in while not in the classroom all day. There are so many great resources out there that allow for instant access to brain fuel so you go back to school equipped with new knowledge and skills.

So whether your child is entering Kindergarten in the fall or you are returning as a veteran teacher, there is something here for everyone.

1. National Summer Learning Day. What better way to kick off your summer learning than on the official day (July 13) created to spread awareness about its importance? 38 states and 143 cities are signed up as participants in this day with a variety of events such as book challenges, field trips, summer camps and more.

You can search for events in your area to take part in on the site by simply entering your state and zip code, or even post your summer learning event to invite others to join.

2. PowerMyLearningFor parents looking to help their kids find specific content, students who need to focus on a certain interest and teachers searching for new online tools to add to their plans in the fall, PowerMyLearning Connect is a great resource.

Developed for every level from K-12 by the incredible people at PowerMyLearning, the nonprofit is determined to help students, teachers and parents use digital learning to improve educational outcomes. They have curated this completely free site, categorizing the “best of the best” free learning content out there in almost every subject area.

3. Summer Advantage USA. Summer vacation can especially affect at-risk students, who often rely on school for safety, meals and stability. In order to provide these students with the support they need during the summer months, Summer Advantage established a program aimed at taking elementary and middle school students to the next level over the summer months, providing rigorous academic programming and an array of enrichment activities during the summer months.

For a great example of a successful partnership, check out this short video from Summer Advantage and Central Indiana Community Foundation leaders sharing how they’re working together to address the needs of inner-city Indiana at-risk students through the Inspiring Scholars Program:

4. DreamBox Learning. For many students, math is where the largest amount of summer learning loss occurs. It can be very hard to find opportunities to keep exercising those “math muscles” in your brain throughout the summer. DreamBox can help solve that problem with its interactive math lessons and games. Its engaging individualized online math curriculum can be used by schools or by parents looking for math activities for their students.

There are a variety of free lessons available in the Teacher Tool section that anyone can try out (don’t forget to turn on your Flash player), or parents can sample some adventures in math to see what the Dreambox at-home version offers and sign up for a free trial.

5. Maker Camp. The maker movement is still going strong (check out what our Maker maven, teacher Lindsey Own, has shared about helping create and run her school’s makerspace).

Why not create and host your own Maker camp for your student and their friends this summer, or join one that already exists in your area? This online maker community is available year round, and provides several great starter projects to get your campers into making, creating, crafting, coding and more this summer.

It also provides background on how to lead these projects to develop maker mindsets and support them through their making process. So browse these new projects for 2017 and pick one to get started on your summer maker journey!

6. Sophia. Sophia offers students an opportunity to achieve college success through affordable, flexible, competency-based online courses. The self-paced courses cost a fraction of traditional college courses, and are accessible anytime, from any device. The site also provides free college readiness resources for students, including ACT test prep and refresher courses.

Sophia also has incredible learning and professional development programs for teachers, and offers free resources to boost interactive course materials, create tutorials and even flip a classroom. Check it out this summer to get ready to transform your classroom this fall!

7. Coursera. This MOOC powerhouse provides universal access to the world’s best education, partnering with top universities and organizations to offer courses online. It has an incredible menu of education courses that explore the practice of teaching from both an applied and theoretical perspective. Subtopics include educational policy, education technology, K-12 education and teacher training, and offer many relevant learning experiences for today’s hot topics.

For example, identifying and teaching students how to identify fake news has been of interest lately, so how about getting started in July improving your news literacy skills with experts at The University of Hong Kong and The State of New York University. You can audit the course for free (giving you access to all course materials except graded items) or pay $49 for full access and a certificate of completion.

How are you planning to avoid summer brain drain this year? Leave us your favorite learning resources in the comment section below.

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