Helping Kids Combat the Summer Slide: Innovative Summer Learning Loss Program from the Y Helps Kids Gain Skills And Return To School Ready and Eager Toequation Learn

Studies show that when children don’t have access to learning activities during the summer, they can experience learning loss. In fact, most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in reading skills over the summer months*, which is called the summer slide.

Helping Kids Combat the Summer Slide

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Children from low-income environments can experience more significant learning loss than their more economically stable peers. Over time, these children continue to lose ground and by the fifth grade, many are two to three school years behind their middle- and high-income peers.

This summer, Ys across the nation are playing their role to prevent summer learning loss with a pilot program called the Summer Learning Loss Prevention program. The program offers reading and learning enrichment to first and second-graders from low-income environments who are reading below grade level. Children improve their reading skills through guidance from certified teachers and assistants.

The YMCA’s Summer Learning Loss Prevention program focuses on writing, phonics and reading to boost literacy skills with enrichment activities to support physical, social and emotional growth. The children take part in afternoon programs that are dedicated to music, art, science and swimming lessons. The program is designed to provide children with well-rounded physical and educational activities.

Parents and caregivers are also encouraged to participate and become active in their student’s development with workshops designed to encourage reading at home and ideas on how to boost overall educational performance.

The outcome? Participants in the program improve their reading skills and return to school ready and eager to learn. Data from last summer’s participants shows that the YMCA’s Summer

Helping Kids Combat the Summer Slide

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Learning Loss Prevention program can deliver promising gains:

  • 97.6 percent of parents/caregivers report children are “more excited to learn”
  • 99.7 percent of parents/caregivers believe their child will do better in school
  • 98.3 percent of parents/caregivers believe the program helped their family read more books
  • Children enrolled in the Y’s Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program gained an average of 2.4 months in reading skills

(2013 Results from 34 sites, 985 children enrolled)

The Summer Learning Loss Prevention program is designed to help children reach their full potential by growing their reading skills as well as nurturing their cognitive, social, emotional and physical development. The program is now offered in 25 states and the numbers are expected to grow.

*Source: National Summer Learning Association


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Rebecca KelleyRebecca Kelley serves as the YMCA of the USA’s National Director of Achievement Gap Initiatives. A first generation college graduate from Baltimore, Rebecca’s journey marks a dedication to leveling the playing field for all youth from when she attained a law degree from University of Cincinnati and leading Cincinnati Urban League’s youth programs.

During 12 years with the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, Rebecca co-led a multi-sector community team that developed the award-winning Cincinnati Community Learning Center initiative and academic enrichment programs, including CincyAfterSchool, a 2013 nominee for National Summer Learning Association’s Award of Excellence. Through school-community partnership, Cincinnati produced a rise in graduation rates during the past decade from 50 percent to 82 percent, and a reduction in the achievement gap from 14.5 percent to 4.5 percent.

Prior to joining the YMCA, Rebecca served as the director of knowledge and innovation for Strive’s National Network at the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, she supported more than 90 cradle to career collective impact initiatives.