It’s the beginning of September already. Where did the summer go? All CMS students have already returned to school after 11 long hot weeks of summer vacation… I was talking to a friend this week about the summer camps and the progress our students made during the five weeks of camps. We debated what the solution might be to helping children avoid the summer slide.
First, a recap of our camps. We welcomed children from 14 different nations, representing a beautiful tapestry of unity. Our daily morning worship and bible study programs focused on the book of Genesis and God’s creation. Our estimated 50 young campers each week read many chapter books and completed literacy and vocabulary building exercises. Afternoon excursions included arts & crafts, soccer, and swimming and visit to the Mint Museum and Big Air & Sky Sports trampoline parks. We have compiled a fun short video of our children during summer camp, thanks to Isabella, one of our awesome college interns, who is attending NC Chapel Hill as a junior this year.
OK, let’s get back to a possible solution to avoiding the summer slide, where teachers spend between three weeks and one quarter reteaching children what they learned before the summer. In my opinion, there is a simple answer with a complicated solution: eliminate the long summer vacation with year-round schools. This is the precedent in Wake county in our state capital, Raleigh, so why not in the largest school system, Mecklenburg county? The greatest push-back will likely be faculty and teachers who have come to enjoy the long summer vacations.
For children who get plenty of summer intervention, reducing long summer vacations could also be seen an encroachment. For under-served families, summer is the worst time of year, likely sitting at home taking care of younger siblings for their working parents, who might take advantage of “making hay while the sun shines”. Speaking of a harvest, when last did the whole family spend the summer months, planting and partaking in crop harvesting? I’m thinking way back in the pilgrim era. If we cared enough for all children struggling in public schools, and considered all children to be our children, we might see a pathway to year-round intervention and avoid the summer slide.
We were able to accommodate every request to attend summer camp! Hundreds avoided the summer slide and were not subjected to child care at home, watching TV and playing video games. We appreciate your support. If you would like to make a donation, please kindly visit our homepage. We could not do this important work with children, without supporters like you!
Learn more about our summer camps here
The next blog is titled Game Face, and will include an overview of our LHCC program services.
Until next time,
Learning Help Centers of Charlotte
September 1, 2018
So begins the long hot summer. Summer holidays for most children, the world over, are a time to relax, enjoy themselves, and catch up on studies, or to spend time with family and friends. Many families travel together on school holidays. Not so for most impoverished families whose children are growing up in challenging circumstances, or close to it. We know this first hand, having offered year-round programs to predominantly immigrant and refugee families since 2012.
The US has the auspicious distinction of having one the longest summer vacations of any developed country. According to Organization for Economic and Community Development, the US doesn’t have a uniform school year and summer vacation schedule. It’s therefore hard to tell where American schools stack up in comparison with the rest of the world. But the largest districts in the US have a summer break of 11 to 12 weeks, or about two and a half months, according to data from the National Council on Teacher Quality. That’s more time off than kids get in France, Germany, and Poland, and a bit longer than Finland and Norway. This information is also supported by Pew Research
Summer is not a good time for underperforming children in our local public schools. Of the estimated 48,000 kindergarten to third grade students in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), approximately 31,000 will not have access to summer enrichment programs. That’s a long 11 weeks to be without some level of enrichment while they often spend the summer cooped up at home, often taking care of younger siblings, and confined to the indoors.
Having provided programs for underserved communities and their children, we have seen the impacts of what is commonly called the summer slide. This is a well-publicized phenomenon whereby children from low-income families lose ground to their more affluent peers every year, on account of not having the needed encouragement at home, access to books, and access to similar literacy enrichment programs.
We, at Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, are grateful to be able to address the summer slide for our children for the sixth consecutive year. We want each and every child to return to school more confident, hopeful and encouraged that they can be what they want to be, because they read great books that we provided for them, and spent some of the long summer reading and learning with cool and caring volunteers!
Most of our children join our program two- to three- reading grade levels behind their peers who speak English at home and whose parents most likely attended college. Our goal is to encourage reading and math intervention during the summer so that our students, ages 5 to 11 years, can start the new school year in September no worse than they ended the prior school year. If children stay at grade level that’s a huge win. If they work hard, and stay engaged through learning during the summer, hallelujah! We are doing our bit to encourage children to use their summer wisely. Most importantly, we are also educating parents that summer should not be a time to take a break. We provide various interventions for children and parents alike, so that the summer can be an opportunity to stay on track or make advancements, rather than slide back. Who wants any child of ours to get way behind, and then run the risk of dropping out of school in later years. A good education should be within reach of every child, even those who could not afford to attend fun educational camps, like their more fortunate peers.
With an average 6 out of 10 (only 39% can read at grade level) to be exact) third grade students not reading at grade level, wouldn’t we be better off with a shorter summer and the opportunity to avoid the summer slide? We will continue to do what we do, one child and family at a time, as we treat all children as our children!
The Leading on Opportunity Report included a definition that speaks to the secret sauce that could very well address the needs of under served children in our city…
“Social capital is defined as the building of relationships and networks that may very well be the ‘secret sauce’ for helping economically disadvantaged youth navigate systems, gain access to information, and open doors to resources and opportunity. It could change the future lives of many of our community’s children.”
Our mission is aligned with addressing the upward mobility of children in Charlotte. And it’s important. Why? Because Charlotte was ranked dead last or 50 out of 50 major cities for upward mobility of children growing up in poverty.
See what we are doing to address the recommendations of the Opportunity Task Force
In order to have a thriving garden, one must start with caring for and nourishing each and every plant they have. Each plant is essential for bringing the garden together to create a beautiful landscape, therefore, they must be able to grow properly. With this said, no garden is perfect. Some plants may be left quenched and simply in need of more attention (and water). Like these plants, we believe the children of our nation should be granted the opportunity to flourish in their education in order to grow and contribute to what should be a wholesome beautiful landscape. However, we find that some children are left behind. Like a single plant, a child must rely on that of a provider to feed them with the necessary and vital elements that will grant them the opportunity to sprout.
Here at Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, we find it imperative to improve the literacy rates for children who may not have access to all the resources necessary to help them learn. We find that when assisting a child with their reading skills that many other skills improve as well since all subjects entail some form of reading.
We are seeking to expand our team of volunteers and interns this summer that can be those helping hands for these children and be the guidance they need. We are looking for high school/college students who are interested in pursuing English, Spanish, or Education to join us as we continue throughout the summer with a handful of summer camps that entail enrichment activities that will further the children’s reading skills.
We hope that you will help us cultivate our garden of children to grow.
If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity please click on the following link for more information;