June 8, 2017
Whether or not you offer a summer learning program, you can partner with families to use strategies that keep children’s brains active during the summer. We know that all students run the risk of summer learning loss, and children in low-income communities have the highest risk. Here are some ideas to involve your 21st CCLC families in helping students hold on to the skills they learned in the past school year.
1. Connect With Family Members
Work with school-day teachers to create tip sheets so families have ideas about how to help their students. Then, deliver the tip sheets when you can have a conversation, so you make personal connections and can answer questions.
• Meet at the program site. If you operate a summer learning program, provide the tip sheets when family members pick up their children at the end of the day, or during a family event that’s tied to program activities.
• Make home visits. If you don’t run a summer program, plan a short visit to deliver the summer learning tips.
• Meet in the community. If you hold a community-based event, use email, a postcard or phone call to invite families to come pick up their summer learning tips. You might do this at a book swap (see below) or when you have an informational event — perhaps at a local street fair or a local market.
2. Promote Literacy
When students lose reading ability over the summer, they rarely catch up during the school year, and summer losses can really add up. By fifth grade, if learning stopped over the summers, a student may be two or more grade levels behind. Here are ways that families and programs can help students maintain their reading and writing skills:
• Share books with families and encourage reading out loud every day. Your program can hold a monthly book swap — arrange a place and time (just half a day) when families can bring books to trade so everyone gets something new to read and enjoy. Ask a community partner to provide the location, and even to conduct a book drive to expand the reading choices.
• Use story starters to encourage writing and reflection about summer activities. In your program or at home, a sheet of paper with simple prompts can start student writing about summer activities. Thinking of family members as the audience, students can “tell about today’s adventure” or “explain what you learned when…” At the dinner table, everyone can read the story and discuss the activity.
3. Practice Math Skills
When families know which math skills their students need to reinforce — fractions, multiplication, measurement or something else — they can involve students in everyday activities that require math:
• Do the math when grocery shopping and preparing meals. Students can help their families by reading price tags and nutrition information to make good decisions at the grocery store. When cooking together, students can learn how to read recipes and measure ingredients, and how to expand or reduce recipe amounts to serve a different number of people.
• Make good home fix-up decisions. Students can help adults do the math to answer questions like these: How much paint does it take to give my bedroom a new look? How much lumber should we buy to fix the fence in the back yard?
Family Engagement course. Take advantage of this free online course to brush up on many aspects of engaging with families. Don’t miss the Coaching My Staff section if you want ready-to-use materials for your fall training.
Family Engagement Strategies. This tool includes some of the above ideas, and more.
Family Engagement Implementation Planner. This tool offers strategies for welcoming family involvement in your program.