By William R. Roberts

With summer vacation in full swing, thoughts of warm weather fun, sleeping in and spending time with friends tends to top most children’s to-do list. For too many youngsters, however, one essential activity is missing: retaining much of what they learned during the previous school year.

The National Summer Learning Association says all students experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. In fact, education experts say students on average lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computation skills.

Starting the school year with an academic deficit can put students at a serious disadvantage.

When competing with summer sun, technology can be a parent’s best friend in helping to keep children learning. Type “summer learning resources” into a search engine and you’ll find thousands of options to keep your kids learning and maybe even having a little fun.

One place to check is Verizon Thinkfinity (article about, a free Web site that contains thousands of educational resources, podcasts and educational games including a special summer learning feature to help parents find everything from online math games where students can challenge their friends to summer science projects. The site was created by a who’s who of educational leaders such as National Geographic, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In today’s competitive global environment, learning cannot end with the school year. If every student devoted an extra 15 minutes a day during the summer to read a few extra pages of a favorite book, or play an educational math game, just think how much further along they will be when the new school year begins.

And, thanks to the wonder of technology – whether it’s a netbook, a smart phone or a laptop – great educational resources are at your fingertips in a classroom, at home or on a beach.

William R. Roberts is Verizon’s president in Maryland and Washington, D.C.