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Summer learning matters!

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Afterschool and Summer News

Summer is a time for adventure, experiential educational opportunities, exploring nature and creating lasting memories with family and friends.  However, summer camps and other learning experiences are often expensive and out of reach for many families.  Cost or other barriers to access for many children mean missing out on fun, engaging camps and activities, while also missing out on continuing to learn and keep up with reading and math in order to enter school on track in the fall.

A growing body of research demonstrates that students without appropriately enriching summer learning opportunities lose 2-3 months’ of what they have learned during the school year in reading and math. For the hundreds of thousands of students in Washington State who experience significant summer learning loss each year, the fall semester can mean substantial time invested in relearning the previous year’s curriculum. The cumulative impact of summer learning loss is the single greatest contributor to the achievement gap for ninth-graders, when we see the highest rates of drop-out.

In addition to the impact of summer learning on academic and social/emotional outcomes, many young people experience hunger during the summer months without access to free/reduced price school meals. The Summer Feeding Service Program fills this gap by providing free summer meals to any youth ages 0-18. Several organizations across the state are working to increase awareness and availability of meal sites as a key strategy to end childhood hunger.

While research tells us summer learning loss is a real contributor to the achievement gap, we also know that summer learning opportunities can make a difference in positive youth outcomes. For example, 95% of participants in summer literacy programs funded by SOWA last year as part of our Feed Your Brain program maintained or improved their reading level over the course of the summer.

The good news – many resources exist to help inform and provide tips on how to best support children and youth during the summer (Check out School’s Out Washington’s Summer Learning Resources webpage for more information).

Here are some highlights of what we’re working on this summer:

National Summer Learning Day

Summer Learning Day is a national advocacy day to spread awareness about the importance of summer learning to help close the achievement gap and support healthy development for youth all across the country.  School’s Out Washington will partner with local King County organizations to host a summer learning celebration this summer. Stay tuned for the date and more event details.  You can plan an event too!  Check out resources to help you plan an amazing summer learning day in your community through the National Summer Learning Association.

Summer Learning Program Quality Intervention

For the second year, School’s Out Washington will be supporting a continuous quality improvement process for summer programs in King and Pierce counties. The Summer Learning Program Quality Intervention tool was developed in partnership with the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality and the National Summer Learning Association. The SLPQI includes components that measure quality of management and instructional practices, provide training and technical assistance and lay the groundwork for studying the connections of summer learning programs to child and youth outcomes.

Let’s Read! & Summer Meals Partnership

This summer, School’s Out is excited to partner with Let’s Read!, a campaign led by Community Center for Education Results to get more youth reading during the summer,. School’s Out Washington will be providing United Way’s incoming summer meal AmeriCorps volunteers with practical training to ensure quality educational programming at United Way-staffed meal sites. The team is also working on providing summer learning kits to each United Way AmeriCorps member to help them incorporate fun literacy and STEM activities into their sites.

What’s a Quality Summer Program?

Parent Map’s After-School Special Series May edition focuses on what to look for in a quality summer program.  This is a great resource to promote the importance of high-quality programs and to help parents understand what to look for in a program.  Thanks to Parent Map and the Raikes Foundation for partnering with School’s Out Washington on this informative series highlighting quality afterschool programming across our region and connecting to the Washington State Quality Standards for Afterschool and Youth Development Programs.

Read the whole article here.

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