Alabama offers free online summer learning to battle student COVID slide

By Trisha Powell Crain |

Alabama students have more ways to keep learning over the summer, even without being in school.

The Alabama Department of Education launched a free Summer Learning Challenge this week, offering children in kindergarten through 12th grade online access to hundreds of thousands of books, along with math exercises and online activities.

State education officials hope parents and families will use the resources to help students get ready for school in August.

“To ensure students are fully prepared for their return to in-classroom learning in 2021-22,” State Superintendent Eric Mackey said in a news release, “we are asking parents and caregivers to consider incorporating fun reading, math, and science skill-building activities into their summer schedules.”

This is the ninth year state education officials have offered the challenge, but Assistant State Superintendent Terry Roller said this year’s offerings have been expanded to help students recover learning lost since COVID first shut down schools in March 2020.

Calling it a “fifth quarter” of school, Roller said all children statewide can access a full array of opportunities where they not only learn, but have fun, too.

“This helps parents create their own learning plan at home,” he added.

Students need access to the internet, which has been expanded to more children statewide due to remote learning needs during the school year, and the links to all offerings are available on the state department’s website,

Related: You can now apply for $50 a month federal internet discount

Many schools are offering in-person summer learning opportunities, too, particularly for struggling readers in kindergarten through third grade, for free. Some, like Tuscaloosa City schools, offer all summer learning programs at no cost to families.

Summer Adventures in Learning, or SAIL, still has open spots for summer camps, particularly in the Birmingham area, director Jim Wooten told SAIL has a proven track record of growth in math and reading skills for children who participate in their programs.

Go to their website,, for more information.

Parents should check with school officials to see what types of learning programs they are offering this summer, Roller said.

The Summer Learning Challenge website also contains a list of summer resources offered by community groups like the YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs.