Summer Reading Community Outreach
Summer Slide, Learning Loss or Summer Set-Back, however it is referred to, defines the fact that many students will begin the new school year at an achievement level that is lower than where they were at the beginning of summer break. This phenomenon is historically more prominent among disadvantaged student populations. In an attempt to shrink learning loss, our district developed a targeted Summer Outreach Reading program.
The Community Outreach Program was developed with the needs of the district’s most disadvantaged students, by taking the program to their neighborhood. The school contacted the home leasing office, who was more than happy to be part of this initiative. The program was held two days per week during the Month of July. The students gathered at a designated location under a 10 x 20 tent and spent part of their summer honing their reading and social-emotional skills. Each student who attended the program received a beach towel to sit on during the program, a book bag, take home books and a daily snack.
The books selected for the program were geared to building resiliency, and each book was paired with an activity. Some of the activities included yoga, self-care, nature exploration, crafts and a field trip to a local farm. The program staff consisted of our reading intervention specialist, the elementary school counselor and guest presenters.
One example of a book that was used was Grow Happy, by John Lasser.The book teaches that just like growing a garden, one can cultivate happiness. After reading and discussing the book, the corresponding activity was to have students decorate a terracotta pot with markers, fill the pots with dirt and plant seeds. This activity encouraged growing happiness.
This was the first time our district went into the community to provide a program that was specifically designed to meet the needs of a defined student demographic. The non-traditional program was a success and well received by the students, parents and our community as a whole.