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The long-awaited summer break is finally here and teachers and students alike are taking advantage of their newfound freedom. After a year of online learning, hybrid classes, and social distancing, summer vacation 2021 feels especially rewarding.

But just because school is no longer in session doesn’t mean the learning should stop. In fact, experts recommend that students engage in educational activities during the summer so that they better retain the skills and information gained during the school year. One study found that students may lose between 17 and 34 percent of the prior year’s learning during summer break, so it is important to keep the mind sharp and active, even during vacation.

Here are the eight best educational summer break activities for students.

  1. Visit a museum. Many museums offer free admission or discounted rates for college students. Call your local museums to see if they offer a college discount.
  2. Join a book club. Book clubs are a great way to encourage learning during the summer months, and the social aspect of clubs make them a lot of fun. Book clubs centered around nonfiction books provide an extra element of learning.
  3. Go camping. There is a lot to learn from the natural world. Grab a sleeping bag and tent and don’t forget to pack birding or wildlife books.
  4. Take a road trip. Visiting new places and trying new things helps the brain create new neural connections which improves learning and creativity. Try visiting a place you’ve never been to and learning about its culture and history.
  5. Enter a contest. From writing to math to robotics, there are hundreds of contests for college students that encourage learning and innovation. Many even offer cash prizes which can come in handy for students living on their own for the first time.
  6. Visit a zoo or aquarium. You may be surprised at all that can be learned through a trip to your local zoo or aquarium. No matter what your age, observing animals in their natural habitats is always a fascinating experience.
  7. Volunteer. Not only does volunteering help students feel more empowered to make change in their communities, but it will help them become more informed about social justice issues and local politics.
  8. Try an escape room. Escape rooms challenge several aspects of learning, from critical thinking to reading comprehension to problem solving. Plus, they are a lot of fun to try with friends or family members.

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