For many families, summer offers an opportunity to relax, travel, and take a break from the everyday school year routine. Using the summer months to help kids balance traditional summer fun with learning is important. But it’s also a chance to help prepare them for the next academic year, especially with math and science skills, which are more likely to be forgotten over the summer unless kids are engaged with keeping those skills sharp between school years.

While research is mixed about whether summer slide exists, and if so, who is most affected, researchers do agree that summer is an opportunity for kids to learn and for those who are behind to catch up.

STEM summer camp with a science focus.

Academic Benefits of Summer STEAM Programs

STEAM- and STEM-based summer programs can help kids retain their math skills and create a continuum of learning to aid them in the next school year. One study found that children who participated in formal summer programs that included math activities showed increased math proficiency compared with kids who didn’t participate in those activities.

However, summer learning shouldn’t feel like a punishment—or like school. Programs that offer engaging activities outside the classroom and foster collaboration can be both fun and educational. Signing your child up for a day camp that includes STEM activities in a hands-on, playful environment can help them explore new concepts and retain them. Further, playful learning can help them develop their interests and practice social and emotional skills, soft skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Simple everyday items offer excellent learning opportunities for a STEM mindset.

At-Home STEM Learning Tips

If summer camp isn’t in the budget or doesn’t fit your family’s schedule this year, you can keep your child engaged with STEM at home. Turn grocery shopping into a math lesson. Time in the kitchen can incorporate basic physics and chemistry concepts. A trip to the park is a great opportunity for engaging them with biology of plants and animals.

The benefits of summer camp, especially STEAM- and STEM-based camps, can set your child up to love learning inside and outside the classroom. STEMful’s summer camps for children aged 3.5 to 5.5 and 5.5 to 9.5 offer hands-on STEAM-based activities that will sprout curiosity during summer and beyond. And our flexible pre- and aftercare options make it easy to fit into your family’s busy schedule.

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  1. H. Joachim Schlichting, “Ketchup Is Not Just a Condiment, It Is Also a Non-Newtonian Fluid,” Scientific American, March 12, 2021,
  2. Stephanie Pappas, “School’s Out. Should You Worry about the ‘Summer Slide’?,” Scientific American, July 10, 2023,
  3. Kathleen Lynch, Lily An, and Zid Mancenido,” The Impact of Summer Programs on Student Mathematics Achievement: A Meta-Analysis,” Review of Educational Research 93, no. 2: 275–315,
  4. Michelle Neuman and Erin Freschi, “Putting the Fun in Fundamental: How Playful Learning Improves Children’s Outcomes,” Federation of American Scientists, October 3, 2023,