Friday, July 10, 2009

The United States Department of Education: Education News Parents Can Use

Summer Programs: Keeping Students Reading and Learning
For many children, summer is their favorite season, a once-a-year chance for them to enjoy the sunshine, play with friends, and go outdoors without having to worry about schoolwork. Many parents take advantage of this time to go on vacations, enroll their kids in camps, make trips to museums and parks, and relax outdoors, where children can learn as they unwind and have fun. But many families are not able to provide supervised experiences that are academically engaging, fun, and safe for their children over the summer break.

No Child Left Behind asks that all students be held to high academic standards—with the goal of all children achieving grade level proficiency in reading and math by the year 2014. Yet after the final school bell has rung, far too few students spend any of their summer time engaged in activities that maintain and sharpen their academic skills—particularly critical reading skills—that were gained during the school year. As a result, many students experience a “summer slide”: scoring lower on reading and math achievement tests at the end of the summer than they did on the same tests before summer break. Teachers are often required to spend up to six weeks going over the same lessons their students were taught the previous school year.

This edition of Education News will showcase several award-winning and effective summer learning programs; explore innovative strategies to academically engage and nurture low-income and disadvantaged youth during the summer; profile corporate, community and library-based initiatives designed to encourage students to read and learn during the break; and spotlight the efforts of organizations dedicated to providing disadvantaged students with access to books and reading materials in the summer and throughout the year. Educators, policymakers, parents and community leaders will discuss key issues such as:

  • Why is it important to sustain academic skills over the break and avoid the “summer slide?”
  • What does an effective and high-quality summer learning program look like?
  • What kinds of summer programs are available and who offers them?
  • What types of summer reading programs are available to students and how can parents find out more about them?
  • What can parents do during the summer encourage their children to continue learning?
  • How can parents, schools, libraries and community organizations access free children’s books and reading materials?

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