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July 24, 2019

Summer + Learning = Fun

Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading kicked off the 2019 Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge as an effort to prevent the summer slide. Ninety camps in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties participated in this effort to ensure students read at grade level by the third grade—an important indicator of future success.

I have had the pleasure of going to camp this summer, too! Actually, I got to go to 11 camps every week! I’m amazed at the planning, attention to detail, creativity, and most of all, care, that these teachers and directors put into ensuring the kids have a fun and productive summer.

We recently celebrated Summer Learning Week. All of my camps planned and celebrated summer learning in their own way. One camp had an elaborate Science lesson where they were literally building each system of the body in an art session. These students could tell me what each system was, where it was, and what function it was responsible for in our bodies!

Another camp brought music to the children. They had an old Victrola Record Player that they played vinyl records on. One of their counselors brought his trumpet in and played, and of course, this fun camp often had the gym jammin’ its stereo. The kids experienced music in several ways, and many were introduced to instruments for the first time!

Off to Space! This camp spent the week studying planets, the solar system, and everything space related. It was an adventure for them as they explored.

Spirit Week was a common theme as children were invited to dress in different themes each day. One day was spent glamping, as they read around a make-believe campfire, reading by flashlight, in makeshift tents….no sunburn, no mosquitos… just fun!

Several camps brought in special guests for the Summer Learning Week fun. K-9 units, reptiles, and reading to guide dogs were a hit! When a child reads to an animal, they let their guard down, which helps them build confidence.

One teacher summed the week up very well! She writes, “At the beginning of the summer, I had to provide a lot of support in helping students pick books to read that were ‘just right’ for their reading level. This week, I heard them saying things to each other like, ‘I tried that book, but it was way too easy, so I stopped reading and exchanged it for one level higher,’ or, ‘I really wanted to read that book, but there were five words that I didn’t know on the first page. I think I’m going to try that book again in a couple of weeks once I learn some new words.’ The students are applying what they’ve been learning, and I’m so excited that I will save so much instructional time in the fall because we spent the summer learning these basic and important skills. We are set up for success!”

I’m happy to report that all of that planning, attention to detail, creativity, and care were well worth the effort.

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