Summer: time to kick back, put those textbooks away, and push school out of mind. But research has shown that this education avoidance contributes to the loss of previously learned knowledge in students, essentially leaving them unprepared for the upcoming school year. How to combat this brain drain malady? Get online—American Library Association’s (ALA) Great Websites for Kids has one such solution.
Since its establishment by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) in 1997, Great Websites for Kids has compiled carefully reviewed websites that are appropriate and educational for users up to fourteen years old. Websites are evaluated on several criteria, including content, purpose, subject matter and design. Their list covers a wide array of topics from history to animals to literature, providing both specific and more general information.
Scrolling through their approved history list, you can find everything from Abraham Lincoln to women’s suffrage. Great Websites for Kids is an excellent tool for homework help during the school year or for curious minds, but as the Chicago Tribune notes, it can also help ensure that students don’t experience learning loss over the summer. Educational websites give children a fun and interactive way to continue their learning.
Some of the many “Most Popular” sites listed on Great Websites are Eric Carle (author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar), Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Thomas the Tank Engine, National Gallery for Kids and NASA. Another site, Generation On, focuses on spreading the youth service movement and helping teens find more ways to volunteer and give back. There truly is something for everyone among the expansive database, even websites for parents and teachers.
However, sticking children in front of a computer screen for the entire summer does have negative effects, including higher rates of obesity. The solution comes in the healthy balance between indoor and active time. As long as it is not a constant stationary activity, access to educational websites not only supplements school, but can also teach kids initiative and spark further interest in different subjects. Additionally, because it can be challenging for some students to learn in a typical classroom setting, access to interactive learning sources provides an alternative for those who struggle.
The Internet can be a dangerous place for kids when unmonitored, but it also opens up endless possibilities that enhance limited learning experiences. Furthermore, longstanding print and television broadcast media have established an online presence: National Geographic, Highlights, PBS and Sesame Street, to name a few. All are on Great Websites’ approved list.
This summer, instead of mindless video games or television show repeats, consider the interactive learning available through Great Websites and other kid-friendly websites, each designed to enrich children’s education and prevent learning loss.