veg out (v.) an activity characteristically defined by inactivity, often performed on a couch in front of a television; an activity associated with today’s youth culture, particularly during the summer months between school sessions.

After spending the summer in this state of inactivity, it is often difficult to recall and apply what was learned the previous school year. According to a recent piece on CNN’s Schools of Thought blog, students typically perform worse on standardized tests after summer break than before it. This phenomenon occurs because students often associate summer vacation with fun and relaxation away from school. Come fall, students have forgotten a large quantity of what they learned during the school year; for three months of summer, they are not using or building upon the knowledge gained in class.

But for me, summer break included camp; camps are a great way for students to continue learning between school sessions, and there is a program for just about any interest. A program in Denver, Summer Scholars, combines physical activity, teamwork, strategic thinking, and quick figure math problems while another program in New York, Harlem RBI, combines education and baseball.

Often, the children who attend these camps come from families who can easily afford the fees, equipment, books, and any other materials for their children’s activities.

These days, however, there are many ways that the summer months can be full of fun and learning (and good quality family time!) at little cost. Families can read together and play learning games online at or Dont forget about local public libraries either. The Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) is a group of states that offers reading logs, posters, bookmarks, and certificates. Member libraries can provide low-cost reading activities for schoolchildren of any income level, keeping kids sharp and allowing for an environment that encourages learning. Libraries also have access to all sorts of learning materials, and many have new technologies available such as the Kindle or other e-readers for checkout to use with the e-books available on their websites.

Summer is a great time for both learning and vacation—why not check out the next book on your reading list and take it on the family trip to the beach?