Ralston Public Schools is fighting the problem with its optional "Jump Start" program. For the third year, students are attending the three-week program to get a leg up on what they will be learning in the coming school year.
The half-dayclasses wrap up Friday at Blumfield Elementary, 103rd & Mockingbird Dr. Fourth grade teacher, Tara Hackette, says she's seen a big difference among the students who take part.
"The kids really need to have a good foundation," she said. "The kids also need food, and they can concentrate better. So we provide breakfast and lunch for Jump Start students."
Fuel for learning is the first part of the battle. The second part is creative teaching, finding ways to make the students want to pay attention. The day Channel 6 News visited, Hackette was working with the students on a book that tied in science through weather, and current events through the recent local flooding.
Math is the area, researchers say, where students tend to lose the most knowledge. Hackette uses a dice game as a fun way to keep the kids' multiplication skills sharp. She also brings in grocery store ads and has children do price comparisons, tallying up savings.
Bringing children along while shopping is another way to sharpen their math skills. We caught up with Omaha mother, Shannon Bessey, with her 6-year-old daughter, Joslyn, on a trip to Hy-Vee at 51st & Center.
"We are always short on money," said Shannon, "so we like to compare prices."
She added, "We actually will come to the store with a certain amount of money and we count as we're going through the store, how much we have left."
Even a drive to run errands can become a chance to hone those counting skills for littler ones. Children can keep track of how many traffic lights or street signs they see. They can even use a clock with hands, to practice time skills - tracking how long it takes to get somewhere.
Shannon said she works on measurements at home with her daughter, while cooking. And, "We take her to the library a lot. She loves the book stores. She'll pick out stories that are chapter books. And when we sit down to read, she actually does the majority of the reading, which I think is great."