Summer experiences benefit every student

July 18, 2023

One of the greatest gifts of education is that it exposes students to new perspectives and ideas. Through education, children get more opportunities to hone in on their likes and dislikes, gain a greater understanding of their world and eventually determine and work toward the future they most prefer. Traditional education typically occurs in – though sometimes even in outdoor – classrooms. But educators and families know full well that all experiences educate, and even non-academic experiences can significantly impact a student’s academic success.

Keeping kids active and curious over summer is especially important during the long break in public education. In summer, it's easy for students to lose some of the knowledge and skills they've acquired throughout the school year. The term for this is summer slide, and the Delaware Department of Education works hard alongside districts, charter schools, Delaware agencies and community partners to develop initiatives and resources that keep students from falling behind during this critical period.

The Governor's Summer Fellowship is one example of how Delaware comes together to empower students across the state. Through hands-on, paid work opportunities at summer camps in each county, on-site mentoring and also networking opportunities with state leaders, students gain on-the-job experience, remain active while school is on break, and develop a deeper understanding of education, government and their communities. Delaware high school students can apply for the Governor’s Summer Fellowship program each fall of their junior and senior years.

The Governor's Summer Learning Resources website is another resource that helps minimize learning loss by giving families information about programs – both private and public – across the state that are designed to promote academics as well as other beneficial opportunities, such as taekwondo and art camp.

Delaware benefits from offering these types of resources, of course, because positive out-of-school experiences can encourage personal exploration and career development, nurture interpersonal and civic engagement, and lay the groundwork for navigating diverse and even challenging situations. But positive summer experiences of any kind also greatly elevate a student’s future aptitude and self-worth.

As a state, we often talk about the non-academic benefits of early learning, but we must continue prioritizing year-round, non-academic learning for all ages as well. And just like a usual school year, we must continue our commitment to equity, partnerships and even scholarships in our summer learning approach so that these types of valuable experiences continue to be made available to all students.

By addressing summer slide in Delaware, students will have even more chances to define and attain their own version of personal success. As a state, we must continue to work together to support and expand both academic and non-academic summer programs so students can shape a brighter future for themselves and their communities.

Mark Holodick is the secretary of the Delaware Department of Education. 


  • Cape Gazette commentaries are written by readers whose occupations, education, community positions or demonstrated focus in particular areas offer an opportunity to expand our readership's understanding or awareness of issues of interest.

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter