Keep your child learning during summer break 

Last week, I saw a lot of lockers being cleared out, final term papers getting turned in and some tearful goodbyes being made on the schoolyard.

School’s out, but does this mean learning takes a vacation?

Not in this city. Summer is the perfect time for our kids to get some hands-on learning and take a deep dive into topics that will expand on what they studied in school.

Here are ways to keep the learning going all summer long:

Get lost!

Some of the best reading kids ever do is over the summer — they can choose what to read, and there’s more time to read.

Getting lost in a book is a good way to keep reading skills going and even improve them. More than 12,000 kids sign up for the San Francisco Public Library Summer Reading Program every year, reading good books, keeping track of the time spent reading to earn prizes and coming to free events. This year, that includes honeybees, the Bubble Lady, hula hoops, worm composting, the San Francisco Zoomobile, Lego robotics, hot-air balloons and even sharks!

Here’s a bonus that’s new: Supervisor Mark Farrell has created four $5,000 scholarships. Teens ages 13 to 18 who log 30 hours of reading and write five book reviews will be entered into a drawing to win.

One-stop summer fun shopping

Did you know there’s a day when you can check out summer learning programs in one place? Come to Civic Center on June 21 to see for yourself. Many of The City’s best youth programs will be there to show kids and families the fun things going on this summer. Last year, the day was full of activities like “mad science” experiments, a petting zoo and acrobatics. The event is part of a national advocacy day for summer learning.

Surprise them!

Most importantly, remember that you are your child’s first teacher. Take a few extra moments this summer to do quick math problems at the grocery store, play a game each night before bed when everyone has to drop everything and read, and remember to talk about what school will be like next year. It shows your child that his or her education — even during summer — is important to you.

I’m not saying all of this just to keep you and your kids busy. I’m thinking about next school year. Research shows that children who don’t take part in quality summer learning programs are more likely to experience a thing called “summer learning loss.” If they don’t keep their skills up during the long break, it takes them time to remember those skills. And that’s time taken away from learning new skills.

Keep your kids active and engaged all summer so going back to school is easier.

See you Aug. 19

I’m eager to see all our students back in class Aug. 19, and I can’t wait to hear all about what they have learned this summer.

Richard A. Carranza is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District. This column is going on summer vacation and will return next school year.

Summer learning resources

  • San Francisco Summer Learning Day: June 21, noon-3 p.m., Civic Center Plaza
  • San Francisco Public Library Summer Reading Program:, (415) 557-4400
  • High-quality, affordable summer programs: Children’s Council of San Francisco,, (415) 276-2900
  • Information for San Francisco families with children: SFKids,
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