Summer learning can be fun

Summer learning can be fun

June 29, 2020

Originally published in the San Francisco Examiner

It’s been almost a month since the 2019-20 school year ended, and what an unusual year it’s been.

Though the year has brought enormous challenges and hardship to our entire community, including our students, staff and families, I want to offer a few celebrations as we wrap up the year and suggest some things for your summer learning list.


SFUSD’s graduation rate rose to 89%, and for SFUSD’s African American students the graduation rate reached 89.5%, higher than the district average and an increase of 8.2 percentage points from the previous year. We also continued to show improvement trends for college and career readiness.

Four SFUSD schools were named California Distinguished Schools under the 2020 California Distinguished Schools Award Program: John Yehall Chin Elementary, Gordon J. Lau Elementary, Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary, and Ulloa Elementary.

We opened our first carbon-neutral building in the district, at Claire Lilienthal Alternative School. With all electric equipment, the building is 100% powered by clean, renewable hydroelectric power from the SF Public Utilities Commission and uses one-third of the energy usage of a typical California school.

We also opened our first culinary center: The McAteer Culinary Center at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts and The Academy @ McAteer campus. The newly upgraded kitchen allows staff to prepare fresh meals for students, even during school building closures, since we continue to provide free meals to all students who need them. (I’ve eaten there, and I can tell you the food is delicious!)

Summer Learning 

Just because school is out for summer doesn’t mean that learning stops. In fact, there are many ways you can encourage your child to continue their learning all summer long.

Read a book (or lots of books!)

Each summer the SF Public Library holds its Summer Stride event to promote summer learning, reading and exploration program for all ages and abilities. Even though we are keeping physical distance this summer, the reading challenge is still on. 

Challenge yourself and others to read, learn and listen with the Library this summer. Twenty hours of participation earns you a finishing prize: the 2020 Summer Stride Library book tote.

Don’t have a library card? SFUSD students can email to activate their SF Public Library Scholar Card today!

Let’s talk about race and social justice

There is no better time than the present to talk with your family about race and social justice in the U.S. We are living in a critical time when these topics must be confronted. SFUSD staff have compiled a brief list of books, articles, videos, websites and other resources for families to explore race and social justice with children of different ages. You can also find book suggestions on the San Francisco Public Library’s Be An Anti-Racist recommended reading list

Connect with nature

Did you know that San Francisco has 220 city parks and every resident has access to a park within a short walk from their home? Currently the City is allowing outdoor museums, historical sites, and public gardens to open, although playgrounds and picnic areas are closed. Check with San Francisco Recreation and Parks and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy for the latest on what’s open and closed. ​​​​​Remember to keep at least 6 feet of distance from people you don’t live with (and also wear a mask!).

And here’s a way to incorporate learning into your park visit: Find a spot to sit in quietly with a partner for 10 minutes, (remember, at least 6 feet away from others who you don’t live with). Use your science observation tools (eyes, ears, nose and fingers). Tell your partner all the things you see, hear, smell, and feel. Find a new spot each day.

Watch past episodes of SF Loves Learning

If you must stay home and watch TV, make it educational. This past spring, SFUSD created our very own daily educational television show in partnership with KTVU. The hour-long show for preschool and elementary age children featured San Francisco public school teachers and special guests, who brought a taste of their classrooms right into our students’ living rooms.

Every past episode is available to watch for free on our YouTube channel. There are daily lessons, mindfulness exercises, dance and music segments, multicultural and multilingual experiences, read alouds, and so much more.

Plus, I even do magic tricks on the show! Go to for past episodes.

Fall planning

Finally, I want to invite the entire SFUSD community to join me at a series of virtual town halls the week of July 6th as we work together to shape what fall learning will look like for SFUSD students. I also know you have questions, and we'll do our best to answer them. Go to for the schedule and details.

No matter what learning opportunities you seek out, I hope you and your family have a wonderful summer.

This page was last updated on July 13, 2020