How to Keep Kids Learning All Summer Long

Sponsored By: Columbia Museum of Art

While summer is certainly a fun and exciting time for kids, the lack of time in the classroom can result in lost learning. Often referred to as the “summer slide,” it can be a serious issue for students who don’t continue to learn throughout their summer break. In fact, students can lose up to two months’ worth of reading skills and more than two months’ worth of math skills, according to statistics compiled by Oxford Learning.

One way to prevent the summer slide is through summer camps that incorporate educational components along with fun, engaging activities. That’s how the Columbia Museum of Art has structured its summer camp program, explains Glenna Barlow, manager of engagement.

“We think what sets us apart is that all our camps are taught by museum education staff, local artists and art educators,” she says. “We have high-quality instructors and that extra skill is passed along to the students. Even though there’s no formal curriculum, the camps encompass a lot of educational components. It’s a nice way for students to get the enrichment they need over the summer to avoid that summer slide.”

The camps all have an artistic flare, but cover a variety of topics that appeal to a range of ages and interests. Ages 4 to 18 can select a camp in one of the many themes from woodworking and clay to drawing and animation.


Camps for teenagers focus on higher level skills and more hands-on creations. “People spend so much time on screens that they are craving that ability to work with their hands and make things,” Barlow says.

Many of this year’s Teen Academy full-day camps focus on those “maker” and DIY skills, such as printmaking, metalworking, woodworking and sewing.

Young Campers

Camp themes for younger students include mythical animals, creating shields and learning about armor as well as an animation theme that introduces students to the basics of video and editing. Other camps are more non-traditional, exposing students to ways they can create art beyond paint and paper.

The “Lost and Found Objects” camp for ages 4 to 7, for example, gives campers the opportunity to find inspiration by incorporating re-purposed and found materials into their art, exploring both 2D and 3D techniques from collage to assemblage.

With such variety, the camps work well for students who have an interest in art as well as students exploring their artistic side for the first time.

“It’s a great way for kids to get their feet wet and figure out ways to make things,” Barlow says.


Spaces in the Columbia Museum of Art summer camps are still available. The Teen Academy is a full-day camp, while camps for younger children are half-day sessions. Students ages 8 to 12 who are signed up for a morning and afternoon session can participate in the lunch buddies program for an extra $25. Students bring their own lunch but can stay at the museum during the lunch hour. View the full listing of summer camp programs on the museum website.

A limited number of scholarships are available for children in need who would benefit from a summer camp program. Donations are also accepted for the scholarship program.

To learn more about the museum or summer camps, visit