"We've really tried to hit the sweet spot between fun learning and serious academic support" with the series, says Maureen McMahon, vice president and publisher of Kaplan Publishing. Some kids will do best reviewing the grade level they've just completed; for others, the series serves as a good preview of what's coming next year. "The books are a great start; they're engaging and will compete with other enticements of kids' lives," believes Doskow. "And the Internet piece keeps kids compelled in light of everything else going on in their lives."
SCORE! Mountain Challenge books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, Borders and at Scoremountain.com, and for preview in the SCORE! Centers in Westchester: 25 Purchase Street, Rye and 450 Central Park Avenue, Scarsdale.
Keeping Young Minds Summer-Smart
Ron Fairchild, executive director of the Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University, offers the following tips for helping prevent summer slide:
Visit the library: Participate in library summer programs to make sure kids are reading every day. Use opportunities like the new Harry Potter release to get kids reading.
Take educational trips: Low-cost visits to parks and museums, or vacations with educational themes, can combat learning loss during summer months.
Encourage informal learning: If kids are interested in comics or technology, expose them to as much as possible to let them become a student of their hobbies.
Practice math skills every day: Kids can learn fractions by cooking, or practice addition and subtraction on trips to the grocery store. Track the temperature. Play educational games. Fun and motivating activities give kids opportunities to learn the skills they need.
Limit TV and video games: Technology use should follow a similar schedule during summer as it does throughout the school year. Provide structure and limits to encourage a balance and keep kids engaged.
For kids who prefer web pages to paper, Sylvan Learning Systems offers several online supplemental materials, which provide fun and enhancing activities for kids, as well as exciting summertime ideas for families.
Available free of charge, the resources are available on a series of topics. "They are there to help all kids," says Steve Huff, executive director of the Sylvan Learning Center in Bronxville, "whether they want to supplement what they're doing during the school year, or prevent 'brain drain' during the summer break."
Broken out by subject, these online resources include:
—Math Activity Booklet containing 30 days of math writing topics, trivia, questions and puzzles.
—Writing Journal with thought starters to get creative juices flowing, and allowing young writers to choose their cover design.
—Summer Fun and Learning Guide, Creative, detailed and grade-specific tips to help parents plan fun, summer activities for kids that nurture reading, writing and math skills and promote summer learning.
—Seven Days of Activities for Family Learning Fun. Creative family projects to spark imagination, inspire creativity and stimulate discovery while reinforcing reading, writing and research skills and promoting family "together" time.
Sylvan also sponsors www.bookadventure.com. "For parents who say, 'How can I get my child to read?', this is the site for them," says Huff. The site allows kids to generate a book list based on their grade level and interests. Once they locate the books at their school, home, library, or bookstore and start reading, they can take quizzes at Book Adventure's Quiz-O-Matic. They earn points by taking the quizzes, and can then trade points for prizes. Parents and teachers can also use the site to check on a child's reading progress.