How to Fight the “Summer Slide” with Museum Visits

While the lazy days of summer bring freedom and sunshine, they also threaten to undo learning for school-aged children. When it comes to keeping kids’ brains engaged over summer vacation, nothing compares to thoughtful, hands-on educational experiences.

While the lazy days of summer bring freedom, sunshine, and time for family fun, they also threaten to undo learning for school-aged children. For example, research shows that elementary-aged students could lose a month or more of academic learning over the summer. When it comes to keeping kids’ brains engaged over summer vacation, even “educational” television, video games, and apps pale in comparison to thoughtful, hands-on educational experiences.


Parents can enrich their children’s summer months by exposing them to fun and memorable activities that build a bridge from one school year to the next.


The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum is a perfect fit to support civics and history lessons in a fun and engaging way for summer learners of all ages. Path to the Presidency, a special exhibit on the history of campaigns and elections in the United States, offers an exciting and interactive look at historic presidential elections, the changing American electorate, and life on the campaign trail.


A few points of interest in the Bush Presidential Library and Museum’s permanent gallery include:


    • Touch-screen tables and panels let students peruse primary documents, including memos, daily schedules, photos, and videos, from President Bush’s Administration;


    • Videos and artifacts from 9/11 provide context around one of the most notable dates in recent history;


    • A replica Oval Office brings the Presidential experience into 3-D;


    • Interactives designed especially for school-aged children show details of the White House’s public rooms, including the Blue Room, the East Room, and the Oval Office;


    • Decision Points Theater allows students to step into the President’s shoes, weighing conflicting expertise and recommendations before issuing a final decision on scenarios including the response to Hurricane Katrina and the surge in Iraq.



To make the most of a museum visit with your summer learner, try the following tips from the U.S. Department of Education:


Before the Visit – Talk with your child about what they’ll see in the museum, what topics excite them, and what sort of behavior is expected during their visit.


During the Visit – Stop by the information desk for a map, and plan your tour experience, taking into account the timing for any “must-do” activities, but remain flexible and ready to follow your child’s lead! As you view exhibits, relate facts back to things they’re already familiar with and ask your child open-ended questions about artifacts, encouraging them to use their imaginations.


After the Visit – Remind your child of the new facts they learned or objects they saw as relevant topics come up. Check out library books on topics that they found most interesting, or bring home items from the museum gift store that will allow the experience to continue at home.