The research is clear that summer and after-school programs provide numerous benefits to students. According to a study by John Hopkins University, during the summer months children living in low-resource communities who are not engaged in activities tend to fall into a “summer slide,” while their peers from more economically advantaged communities build skills that will help them succeed. Students without positive summer activities lose nearly two months of competency in reading, and these losses are cumulative. By ninth grade, summer learning loss accounts for nearly two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading. Also well-documented are the negative impacts on health: youth without summer learning programs gain weight at a higher rate than during the school year. This is particularly true for children and youth of color and those who are already overweight.
Summer Learning Loss
I propose that we retool the old summer school model into summer enrichment camps that focus on 21st century skills. These summer programs would employ teachers who have expertise in applying instructional strategies that foster critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication skills in our students. They would work in partnership with nonprofit and other youth-serving organizations, public libraries and others to provide full-day learning and enrichment camps.
By the time a low-income child enters fifth grade, he or she can be up to three grade levels behind other classmates in reading and math. One key contributor to this gap is the absence of learning opportunities during summer months, which results in learning loss.
Summer Matters presented its Summer Matters Superhero Award to Superintendents Deborah A. Flores of Gilroy Unified School District; Richard Martinez of Pomona Unified School District; and William McCoy of Sausalito Marin City School District during the California School Board Association’s annual education conference.
Include discussions and demonstrations in your staff training on the following topics: Why are we offering this particular program? Who is an important part of our program, and what can we expect from them? How will we achieve our intended goals, and how will we know we were successful?
For many of our children, June is still that month of transition. School ends and books get put away. Clothes now too tight and too short get discarded, and, in advance of summer camp, shopping lists get finalized and bags get packed.