Friendships and Fun
Preventing Summer Learning Loss
You Can Make the Difference!
Out-of-school time providers have the flexibility, enthusiasm, and unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young children and youth every day. This is especially true during the summer months. Day camp staff can fill camper’s days with teachable moments – real world experiences that teach math, science, reading and the arts. Being mindful of teaching and practicing during day to day and week to week activities can make the difference between children losing ground over the summer, maintaining or even gaining academic proficiency!
Research suggests that some children (especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds) lose approximately one to three months of academic skills and knowledge during the short ten weeks of summer break. Summer takes its toll on kids if they spend their time in situations that lack the chance to learn new things, be challenged with new ideas and to practice reading and math skills. Some researcher even suggests that two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower and higher income students in ninth grade can be attributed to different summer opportunities and the cumulative summer learning loss phenomenon. Read this Rand Education research brief, Summer Counts - Making Summer Programs Part of the Learning Equation, to get a quick but thorough overview of the problem.
The good news is that summer learning loss can be alleviated, and in fact reversed, when children participate in quality summer programs that intentionally incorporate learning into the curriculum. The best programs do not emphasize kill and drill, flashcard and rote memorization tasks. Instead, they take the freedom and fun of summer camp activities and build into each experience real-life learning. Fishing? Let’s figure out how to measure the length of line out in the water… if one pull is approximately 12 inches, how many feet is 15 pulls? Cooking? If three teaspoons make a tablespoon, how many tablespoons do we need if we are doubling this recipe? Get the idea? Camp leaders can enrich every experience with mindful interactions and deliberate academic learning objectives.
Want to find out more? This hot topic has a lot of interest with researchers and practitioners alike. Here are some websites to check out for more information:
“The American Camp Association (formerly known as the American Camping Association) is a community of camp professionals who, for 100 years, have joined together to share our knowledge and experience and to ensure the quality of camp programs.” Featured on the summer learning resources page are links for: Summer Learning Loss: Did You Know?, Four Things Camps Can Do TODAY to Prevent Summer Learning Loss, Resources from the American Camp Association, Resources from the National Summer Learning Association, and Other Summer Learning Resources.
♦ California After School Resource Center ♦ (CASRC, “cas-rac”)
Although not directly focused on summer learning, this vast online resource includes a lot of material applicable to both after school providers and summer program providers. This site “supports quality after school programming via this comprehensive Web site, statewide circulating library of reviewed materials, online trainings, and technical assistance.” This comprehensive site is managed by the California Department of Education and includes tabs for the: Resource Library, Online Trainings, Get Connected, Academic Support, Program Administration, Special Needs, Physical Activity, Nutrition, and About the Center.
“The vision of the National Summer Learning Association is for every child to be safe, healthy, and engaged in learning during the summer. To realize that vision, our mission is to connect and equip schools, providers, communities, and families to deliver high-quality summer learning opportunities to our nation’s youth to help close the achievement gap and support healthy development.” This site features: New Vision for Summer School, Services & Training, Publications & Resources, Public Policy, Events, News, and Membership.
The Partnership for Children and Youth serves California and “brings together government, education, philanthropic, nonprofit, business and community leaders to realize a simple but powerful vision: All children and youth will enjoy an equal opportunity for a healthy, happy and successful future.” The Summer Matters initiative focuses on: Expanding Summer Opportunities for Low-income Children, Technical Assistance for Summer Programs, Core Elements of the summer Enrichment Strategy, and Summer is the Season for Learning.
Written by Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Catherine H. Augustine, Heather L. Schwartz, Susan J. Bodilly, Brian McInnis, Dahlia S. Lichter, and Amanda Brown Cross, this free downloadable eBook includes current research, data from summer programs managed by school districts and private organizations across the nation and recommendations for policy makers and summer program providers. A must read!
“The conventional six-hour, 180-day school year may not be enough for students in many urban public schools. Wallace is seeking to address that through supporting nonprofits and school districts that are trying out ways to expand learning time during the summer and regular school day or year.” This site hosts sections devoted to: Research, Strategies and Grantees.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s signature program Let's Move! invites all of us to work together to combat the childhood obesity epidemic. We all have a part to play – community leaders, child care operators, after school programs, faith based programs, municipalities, public, private and charter schools, museums, gardens, Native American tribes and organizations, health care professionals, and of course, parents and family members! Go to www.letsmove.gov to see how you can sign on to help bring positive change to your community. There are a lot of great resources on this site, including:
- Information about the campaign
- Childhood obesity facts find out why this is such a growing problem
- Eat Healthy guidelines and best practices – even a sample 7 day menu!
- Get Active with physical activity ideas for all adults involved in kid’s lives
- Take Action step by step plans
- Join Us and take the pledge
Early Learning Transition Model ~ Generously funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation 2012-2013