But before you send them to the pool, see if you can get your kids to read. This Christian Science Monitor article notes that two thirds of the reading achievement gap among low-income ninth-graders comes from differences in summer reading habits. The article also notes that we can all help kids stay sharp by giving them books:
In a study that compares students who received free books over the summer with students who didn’t, Richard Allington, an education professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, found encouraging results. He tracked low-income first- and second-graders in Florida who chose a dozen free books at their reading level for three summers in a row.
“The effect was equal to the effect of summer school,” Professor Allington says. “Spending roughly $40 to $50 a year on free books for [each kid] began to alleviate the achievement gap that occurs in the summer” [Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, "Summer Reading Gets Plug from U.S. Officials to Keep Kids Sharp," Christian Science Monitor, 2010.07.09; via Rebecca Blood].
Forty to fifty bucks per kids. Compare that with the hundreds of dollars Madison Central and other South Dakota schools spend per kid on laptops.
I look over from the couch and see our four-year-old taking a break from bagging toys to flip intently through a children's magazine. She's still mostly into the pictures, but the look in her eyes shows she knows that text in her hands is important and worth her quiet attention.