I was honored to host the most recent Whole Child Podcast where we talked about ways we reflect, recharge, and refresh as educators. One theme present in the podcast discussion and one we hear about over and over again is reading. While we encourage students (of all ages) to read often, as adults we find it difficult to find the time to read between full-time jobs, raising our children, and, heaven forbid, our own hobbies.
Summer seems to be a time where things slow down a bit. But I find that even as I write that sentence, I'm glancing at my calendar for the next meeting, what camp my kids are in this week, and what time I need to get them so they can go to the next activity. So maybe summer is a time where things don't necessarily slow down, but the schedule changes.
Summer Learning Day, June 21, is just around the corner. It is a grassroots movement to spread awareness among parents, the public, and policymakers about the issue of summer learning loss for children. Hundreds of events will take place across the country, celebrating local programs and providing a platform for policy advocacy.
The summer learning movement is part of a whole child approach to education. Children live their lives 12 months a year, not just when school is in session. They learn less or even lose what they've previously learned if they don't have stimulating experiences during the summer. Many need, but don't get, federally-subsidized meals for nutrition and structured opportunities for healthy exercise 12 months a year.
Post submitted by Gary Huggins, chief executive officer of whole child partner National Summer Learning Association.
Research has shown that every year, most youth lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in math skills. Low-income youth lose over two months in reading skills. Called the "summer slide," this loss of academic skills disproportionately affects low-income students, contributing to high dropout rates and an ever-persistent academic achievement gap.
But there is evidence that students can avoid this learning loss by attending high-quality summer programs, which help boost student achievement. Three such programs have recently been chosen by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) for the 2012 Excellence in Summer Learning Awards: the United Way of Santa Barbara County (Calif.) Fun in the Sun Initiative, Ohio State University's LiFE Sports Camp, and the GO Project of Lower Manhattan in New York. These programs all demonstrate effective strategies in curbing the effects of summer learning loss by offering strong, individualized instruction and engaging activities for students.
ASCD conducted its second Whole Child Virtual Conference in May. This free conference showcases schools, authors, and research about implementing a whole child approach for a worldwide audience. View and share archived session recordings, presenter handouts, and related resources at www.ascd.org/wcvirtualconference.
Gain further insight into what successful school sites are doing and simple steps your school can take to help implement, sustain, and build a culture of meeting the needs of the whole child through these presentations:
There's a massive Viking longhouse under construction in Winthrop, Mass., and its youngest architects are only 14 years old. Each afternoon—after school—students in the town of Winthrop expand their math skills as they draw plans and measure wood, social studies skills in recreating Viking food and clothing, computer skills as they plot the museum's layout, and language and leadership skills as they make Viking culture come alive for visitors.
Across the country, high-quality after-school programs are helping accelerate student achievement. And, because the programs are community-driven and tap into local expertise, resources and talent, no two programs are exactly alike. In Winthrop, for example, Viking scholars are treated to visits by area architects and engineers. At other after-school programs, participants are just as likely to have music executives or computer programmers as their guides and colleagues.
School Trains Sixth Graders in CPR: A Massachusetts school spent the last two days before winter break training 6th-grade students in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), the Heimlich Maneuver, and other life-saving techniques. The curriculum, usually taught in 9th grade, has been simplified to train more individuals. "This is a new and innovative program that we hope will really catch on in other surrounding communities," a lieutenant with the fire department said.
Developing Emotional Resiliency Could Benefit Stressed Teachers: Teaching is a stressful profession and the retention rate—especially in struggling schools—often is low, says a school-improvement coach. Elena Aguilar writes that teachers would benefit from developing emotional resilience—knowing when to let go and how to adapt to stressful situations. She recommends that building these emotional skills be incorporated into teachers' professional development and cites research that shows mentoring and collaborating could help, too.
Why Do We Need Physical Education in Schools? Healthy School Communities Director Sean Slade illustrates the two sides of the debate in his blog post on the Whole Child website. Although research shows that healthier students learn better, there are others out there who seem to believe PE and recess are a waste of classroom time. Go to ASCD EDge and tell us how you defend the role of physical education and physical activity in your school.
Mental Health Resources for Schools: The Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA provides a free online toolkit, Practitioner and Professional Development: Virtual Toolbox for Mental Health in Schools, that reflects on the role of mental health in the well-being of students for school personnel involved in preservice and inservice professional development.
Get Nutrition Education in Your Classrooms: Attend this free 45-minute webinar on Wednesday, January 19 at 3:00 p.m. pacific time, 6:00 p.m., eastern time, from SPARK, a whole child partner, to learn how you can integrate nutrition education into other core subject areas like math, science, language arts, and physical education. Register now!
Get Into It and Fight Childhood Obesity: Special Olympics and Youth Service America is offering Get Into It grants. The purpose is to bring together students of all abilities to fight childhood obesity in their schools and communities. The Get Into It curriculum helps to develop a service-learning program that gives youth the opportunity to make a change by creating and implementing local, hands-on programs to fight childhood obesity. Maximum award: $1,000. Eligibility: U.S.-based teams that include a teacher and a unified pair of students (one with and one without an intellectual disability). Deadline: January 19, 2011.
Excellence in Summer Learning Award: Whole child partner the National Summer Learning Association will be awarding its Excellence in Summer Learning Award to an outstanding summer program that "demonstrates excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting positive development for young people between kindergarten and 12th grade." Award winners will receive national recognition, increased press opportunities, conference presentations and complimentary registrations, professional development opportunities for staff, and increased publishing opportunities. Public or private organizations or agencies (schools, community-based organizations, libraries, universities, faith-based organizations, etc.) serving young people between the ages of kindergarten and 12th grade over the summer months are eligible to apply. Deadline: February 11, 2011.
Healthy School Communities is a worldwide ASCD effort to promote the integration of health and learning and the benefits of school-community collaboration. It is part of a large, multiyear plan to shift public dialogue about education from a narrow, curriculum-centric and accountability system focus to a whole child approach that encompasses all factors required for successful student outcomes. Visit the Healthy School Communities group on ASCD EDge and share everything from ideas and solutions to common concerns.
Across the country, temperatures are hitting the triple digits, but instead of spending lazy days at the pool, many kids are taking advantage of summer learning opportunities. A recent news roundup of articles and blog posts about summer learning reveals some trends: (1) summer learning programs can improve academic performance, especially for high-need kids, (2) many of these programs are threatened in our current economic climate, and (3) summer learning has moved away from our traditional vision of dreaded summer school.
Here's a sampling of the latest summer learning news:
Education Week's "Financial Woes Afflict Summer School" explains that while many school districts have had to scale back or eliminate summer learning programs because of budget shortfalls, other surviving programs have been transformed so that they're more engaging and fun for students.
A Toronto Sun article provides tips for parents on how they can keep their children actively learning during the summer months, without overcommitting them or completely eliminating time for relaxation and fun.
What types of summer learning opportunities does your school district or city offer? Have you witnessed summer learning cutbacks this year?