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Fight summer learning loss

This season, most kids will experience the all-too-common phenomenon known as “summer learning loss.”

The National Summer Learning Association reports that the majority of students lose two months of grade-level equivalency in math over the summer months, with low-income students also falling behind two months in reading. Furthermore, most children gain weight more rapidly during summer break.

To help prevent this seasonal backsliding, we compiled a list of five things that New York City kids should pick up this summer:

A racquet. Everyone knows tennis is great exercise, but it is also proven to uniquely build kids’ cognitive abilities, academic performance, and character. According to a United States Tennis Association study, children who play tennis get better grades, have fewer behavioral problems, and are more likely to aspire to attend college than those who play other sports. To learn about tennis opportunities for kids throughout New York City, visit www.nyjtl.org.

A book. Summer reading is a tried and true way to combat learning loss. One of the many benefits kids reap from reading is a more robust vocabulary, which is crucial for standardized tests. Visit www.btny.org/resources for recommended books and vocab apps. Additionally, parents should read the same books and engage their kids in conversation about the plot, characters, and themes.

A pen. Writing well is vital for success in school, and it helps kids become more analytical and expressive. The trick is to make it enjoyable. Some kids like keeping a journal, but many do not. Writing and performing spoken word poetry and music lyrics are effective ways to get kids excited about expressing themselves through words.

A MetroCard. On weekends, visit different parts of New York City. Expand your child’s worldview by embarking on outings to new neighborhoods to experience diverse cultures, hear different languages, taste ethnic foods, and see distinctive architecture. Visit the city’s world-class museums, many of which offer cheap — or even free — admission.

A meditation practice. The positive impact that mindfulness meditation has on adults’ health and well-being is extensively documented. But studies also show that meditation helps kids calm down, focus, and can even boost their test scores. Concentration is a particularly important skill these days, as kids are increasingly bombarded with visual stimulation from TV, videogames, and mobile devices. For meditation resources for children, visit www.teachchildrenmeditation.com.

This summer, our two organizations — New York Junior Tennis & Learning and Breakthrough New York — are embarking on a new partnership. New York Junior Tennis & Learning’s brand-new Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning in the Bronx’s Crotona Park will serve as the third site of Breakthrough New York’s year-round academic enrichment program.

Kids participating in summer programming at the Cary Leeds Center will boost their brains and bodies, so that they’re ready for success in school come September. For those kids who aren’t participating in this kind of enrichment programming, picking up these five things is a great way to turn learning loss into summer gain.

Dr. Deborah Antoine is president and chief executive officer of New York Junior Tennis and Learning. Rhea Wong is executive director of Breakthrough New York.

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