Free Summer Learning and Fun for L.A. Kids


Nearly one month into summer, if your child is spending a bit too much time on screens or complaining about boredom, rest assured there are options. Speak UP has put together a list of free summer activities for L.A. kids. While some offerings are restricted to students who quality for free and reduced lunch, there is truly something for everyone, from swim lessons to computer and art classes to the opportunity to enjoy a good book with a former Dodgers player.


826LA, a nonprofit devoted to helping students hone their writing skills, is offering two distinct camps this summer at both their Echo Park and Mar Vista locations. For kids ages 7 to 11, there’s Write On!, which runs from July 15 to August 1. Morning and afternoon sessions are available, and students must qualify for free/reduced lunch to attend. Middle and high school students ages 12 and older are invited to explore the themes of resiliency and remembrance in the weeklong Summer Writers Workshop July 8 to 12. Limited spots are still available at all the camps.

Sports and Swimming

The Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department is offering a series of weeklong free summer swim lessons for kids as young as 4 at a many city pools. There are multiple levels, from “Water Confidence” to “Swimmer.” (The latter focuses on skills such as flip turns and refining strokes.) Sign-ups are rolling throughout the summer.

Tweens and teens ages 12 to 17 can take advantage of free memberships at most YMCA locations this summer. The program runs through July and gives teens full access to Y swimming pools, basketball courts and exercise equipment as well as special teen-only programming such as leadership and college readiness classes. An authorized guardian is required to accompany the teen at the time of registration.

Urban Adventures

We thought we knew everything about the Los Angeles Public Library system, including the fact that you can check out a ukelele at some branches or read to dogs. But we only just learned about the library’s Explore L.A. program. Using your library card, you can score free passes to popular sites such as Kidspace Children’s Museum, the GRAMMY Museum and the Museum of Tolerance. Advance reservations are required in most cases, and some destinations, like Discovery Cube, release passes monthly, which get snapped up quickly.


Video game design, songwriting and watercolor painting are three of dozens of workshops offered to middle and high school students at The Visual, Media & Performing Arts Institutes at Inner-City Arts in Downtown Los Angeles. The 6-week program, available either Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays begins the week of June 24. Limited spots are available. Tuition is waived for families who participate in Medi-Cal, CalWORKs, CalFresh, WIC or MyHealth LA.

LAUSD Summer School and Enrichment

Many LAUSD schools, including elementary, middle and high schools, are offering 6-hour per day enrichment programs this summer. While most programs have already started, there are still some openings for interested students. And you don’t necessarily need to attend the school hosting the program. Most programs run through mid- or late-July and feature a mix of academic, enrichment and fitness activities. For more information, contact your child’s LAUSD school or Beyond the Bell at LAUSD. For a list of school sites and additional information, visit

Computer Skills

On Monday June 24, CyberCamp begins at three LAUSD campuses: Fremont High School, Carson High School and Torres High School. The five-day camp, part of the district’s Beyond the Bell programming and open to LAUSD high school students only, focuses on Windows, Linux and Cisco. Participants will learn how to find vulnerabilities in networking systems. Limited spots are available. Contact the schools directly for more information.


Dozens of celebrated children’s book and young adult authors visit Los Angeles city public libraries this summer for special readings. The “Your Author” events include refreshments and, for a few lucky attendees, free books. Note that several of the authors are showcasing bilingual titles. For example, on July 9, author Antonio Sacre will be at the Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch Library in Venice with his book A Mango in the Hand: A Story Told Through Proverbs. And on August 7, at the Chatsworth Branch Library, Rene Colato will read from his book, My Shoes and I: Crossing Three Borders.

Have a young baseball fan in the house? What better way to get your child excited about reading than to enjoy a book or two with a former Dodgers player or coach. The Los Angeles County Library has teamed up with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation to present LA Dodgers Storytime. There are four more events this summer. Kids in grades 1 to 8 can also sign up for the Dodgers LA Reads program. And yes, there are prizes.

— Leslee Komaiko