Deciding to do “something” about summer learning loss and determining what the “something” should be was an adventure.
I began by collecting every summer packet sent home with students by teachers that I could find, purchasing every summer review book on the market, and reviewing academic summer programs.
Next, I held discussion groups with teachers asking what they wanted from students and families over the summer. I hosted coffees with parents and asked what they needed from schools over the summer. And finally, I met with kids to ask what they wanted out of their summer and their back to school experience.
I came to a couple important realizations:
- Kids did not want to stop learning – they wanted to learn in a different way over the summer.
- Parents were very anxious over summer academics and did not want to have to teach new skills to their students.
- Teachers simply wanted kids to return to the school with the skills they had when the school year ended.
Combining these realizations with my research, I came up with a set of goals for my program that I use to guide my work to today:
- Make summer learning activities a regular part of the school year
- Include EVERY student in a learning community
- Review mastered skills, not teach new skills
- Educate and support parents
- Reward and celebrate summer learning efforts
- Return students in the fall with their skills intact
The next step was to design a summer learning program that met these steep goals and was fun for kids!