As a child, I anticipated with great excitement the long summer days, time spent with family, swimming, learning new skills at summer classes, and making weekly trips to the library for new books.

My father, who hoped that I would love math and science as much as he did, would order boxes of mail-order science experiments that we could explore together. I eagerly anticipated the arrival every week of the next magical box.

More than anything, I loved the time that my dad and I would spend together. I was unaware that this was also my dad's covert way of making sure that I did some math and engaged in problem-solving activities, keeping my brain from turning to mush over the summer.

Did you know that all young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer?

Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation that they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer. According to The National Summer Learning Association, most students lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months.

So... what can you do to combat summer learning loss with your own kids?

The most important thing that you can do is to make sure that your children have access to books and that you read to them and they are reading on their own for at least 20 minutes everyday.

If you do not already have a library card, get one. You will also find that most local libraries have summer reading programs in place with fun activities and incentives for kids at all levels of reading.

Check out the summer reading programs at Provo City Public Library , The Springville Public Library and The Orem Public Library. If your own community has a library, they probably have a reading program as well. This is the very best thing that you can do to make sure that your kids' reading skills don't tank over the summer.

If you are interested in engaging your children in enriching summer activities at home, the following links have great resources and ideas.

KahnAcademy.com has a library of over 3,000 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance and history and hundreds of skills to practice.

InsectLore.com has devoted much energy to developing wholesome and educational products that feature living creatures.

• Hands On Activities For Home Schoolers (HandsOnHomeschooler.com) offers interactive learning for active kids.

• TeachersPayTeachers.com is a source for inexpensive materials to teach a wide variety of subjects.

K-5MathTeachingResources.com offers a great resource for teaching kids math skills.

We, at the Hobble Creek Learning Center in Springville, offer a summer full of mind engaging activities. From June to August there are weekly summer camps for kids ages 3-9. We offer summer preschool on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning.

For the first time Hobble Creek Learning Center will offer one, half-day engineering camp for kids ages 10-14, sponsored by U.S. Synthetic where kids can learn how engineers invent cool things that can change the world. Using hands-on problem solving skills the students will build a "Tower of Terror."

The following week, August 5-9, The Boston Museum of Science is piloting a week-long summer camp at the center for 6th to 8th graders called Engineering Everywhere. The participants will engineer different ways to make ice cream. Of course... there will be a lot of ice cream eating involved as well. Your student will be so engaged that they won't realize all the math and science skills they will be learning at the same time.

For those students that would like to be at the top of their class in the fall, check out our award winning K-12 Tutoring at Hobble Creek Learning Center. Summer is a great opportunity to get ahead or catch up before the next school year.

After all is said and done, the most important thing you can do for your child this summer is to engage their brains in stimulating and creative activities. The time that I spent with my dad during the summer months of my childhood gave me a lifelong love of learning and the desire to be the kind of educator that could light the spark of wonder and imaginative learning in all our children.

Stephanie Harker has been an educator for over 35 years.  For the past seven years she has been the executive director of the non-profit Hobble Creek Learning Center.  For more information or to contact Stephanie, log on to her website at www.hobblecreeklearning.com.