During my lunch break last week, I took a stroll through Boston Commons where I was delighted (and jealous!) to see groups of children learning hip-hop routines. In an effort to stem summer learning loss, programs all over the country are providing summer learning activities for students of all ages. As I’ve written before, students from middle class and wealthy families are more likely to maintain or advance their academic level this summer while students from low-income families are more likely to regress. Great summer learning programs are in full swing and here at TSC we want to use this space during the summer to highlight the exciting work these programs are doing for students.
Here in Massachusetts, Boston After School & Beyond’s Summer Learning Project provides educational summer programming to elementary and middle school students. The program has seen rapid growth due in part to increased funding by the Boston Opportunity Agenda, a public-private partnership coordinated by the city and school district to fund educational programming, and the Wallace Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit. The five-week programs typically run six to eight hours a day, four or five days a week. Some of the students in this program are fulfilling summer school requirements, while others voluntarily apply for the program. The perception that summer school is all business and no fun does not apply here. In the morning, students attend academic classes where they learn through hands-on applications of material such as creating a budget or developing a script for a commercial. After a break for lunch and recess, students are then divided into groups for arts classes— ranging from glassblowing to drum lessons to website design to hip-hop dancing.
The Boston Globe recently ran a story on the Boston After School & Beyond Summer Learning Project and I was struck by a quote by 12 year old Marcos Suares: “You learn to like learning new things because it is fun,” he said. “It really makes you start learning and looking toward the future.”
TSC is building a movement to ensure that all children in our nation’s high-poverty communities have more and better learning time in school to prepare them for success. What I love about summer programs like Boston After School & Beyond is that it demonstrate the power of not only expanding learning time to curb summer learning loss but better learning time in which students are engaged in activities that make them want to learn, expand, and succeed.