First, schools opened in the spring…sort of.
Now, the school year is almost over.
And before we know it, school will resume entirely in-person instruction in the fall.
Before that, though, there’s summer—and the looming risk of the so-called “summer slide,” when children can lose up to two to three months of reading and math skills…compounded this year by a possible Covid slide.
But how to encourage your student to stick to learning, when she’d rather be throwing back water ice and riding the Wildwood waves?
Fear not: These standout summer learning opportunities will keep your kid challenged, engaged and, by the time September comes, maybe even reaching for a book instead of their screen.
Summer of Wonder
The Free Library of Philadelphia is kicking off its annual Summer of Wonder on Monday, June 1, launching a virtual summer reading experience that will run through August 31. “Whether students have been learning virtually or in-person over the past year, it is especially vital this summer for students to stay engaged and ready to start the next school year by combatting learning loss,” said Leslie M. Walker, Interim Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Children, teens, and adults can sign up online here to collect points and earn badges for Summer of Wonder activities and time spent reading.
Information on summer reading programs is also available at the many neighborhood libraries that are open for in-person services. Go here to find out which services are available at your nearby branch.
Summer of Wonder and Science in the Summer will also be hosting virtual events throughout the summer, while some neighborhood libraries will be hosting outdoor events and story times. A full list of library events is available here. For more information on summer programs with the Free Library visit here or text 66746, and start the body of the text with keyword askfree then a space, followed by your question.
Donate to support the Free Library of Philadelphia here.
Culturally Relevant Learning
Freedom Schools Literacy Academy (FSLA) is returning for its fourth summer, supporting Black children in becoming proficient, prolific readers, through a culturally relevant approach. “In this short summer program, we aim to have children engage in culturally sustaining, research-based literacy instruction, centered on supporting children in becoming independent readers of words, comprehenders of texts, and confident Black activists,” explains Sharif El-Mekki, founder of the Center for Black Educator Development, of which FSLA is an initiative. Register your child and learn more here.
Get involved: High school and college students can serve as teacher apprentices; learn more here.
Donate to support FSLA (and check out their cool merch, too) here.
The city’s beloved writing program Mighty Writers will be holding mostly online workshops in English and Spanish this summer, with a few in-person options too (like outdoor art in South Philly in Spanish, and crafting in Camden, to name a few). Check out the full list of English workshops here, and Spanish ones here. Plus, every month, Mighty Writers holds a writing contest with a different theme—submissions can be in English or Spanish—and awards four entrants cash prizes! Check out this month’s theme and enter here.
Get involved: Volunteer to be a Mighty mentor; get all the details here.
Donate to support Mighty Writers here.
This summer, Philly Reading Coaches will be offering one-on-one reading sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays from July 6th through August 6th; participants will attend virtual sessions twice a week for one hour each, and will work with the same volunteer, using an online book platform to access grade-appropriate books. Participants can also use the online book platform between sessions, to access even more books, and will receive actual books to keep as well. The program welcomes all students living in Philly who were in K-3 during the 2020-2021 school year. Interested families should register here.
Get involved: Sign up to volunteer here.
Donate to Books in Homes here, which has provided PRC with books that they distribute to families.
Read 2 Succeed
The Read to Succeed Philadelphia Summer Program (R2S) is a free, four-week literacy program that will host in-person and virtual sessions this summer. Literacy instruction and literacy experiences are facilitated by experienced, certified teachers, and each registered student receives a R2S kit that includes books, literacy activities and supplies. The program also hosts a weekly Family Workshop that offers literacy strategies and community resources. Interested families should register here.
Donate to support R2S here.
This summer, Spells Writing Lab will be offering three weeks of in-person writing camp in addition to three weeks of virtual camp, plus a summer-long virtual program for teens. Every week will include irreverent writing workshops, small group sessions, and individualized writing help from Spells staff and interns. Register and get full info here.
Get involved: Volunteer with Spells Writing Lab as a tutor, workshop leader, lab assistant, or in any other number of meaningful roles; get the details here.
Donate to support Spells Writing Lab here.
Tree House Books‘ Literacy Summer Studio is connecting students ages 5 to 12 to the world of books, texts and words with its focus on language acquisition, recreational reading, critical thinking and creative writing. Literacy Coaches make books fun and relevant to the most reluctant readers and encourage esteem and self-regard through writing. The summer will also feature a handful of field trips and activities to further engage young readers and bring the stories they read to life. The program is from 9am to 3pm, with lunch included. Email Program Director Sabriaya Shipley at [email protected].
More ways to support reading this summer and beyond
Support Reach Out And Read (ROAR): Eagles Center Jason Kelce wrote about the CHOP outpost of this national program, which enables pediatricians to give new books to children during their well visits; since then, we’ve also profiled Dr. Dan Taylor, who oversees the outpost at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. Support their incredible work here.
Donate Books: There are so many wonderful organizations that welcome new and gently-used books! Try BookSmiles, after reading this beautiful tribute to the group’s founder. Mighty Writers will accept drop-offs at its locations. Cradles to Crayons welcomes books targeted at babies through grade 6.
Call your local school and rec center: Get in touch with your local school or rec center to see what needs their classrooms have for the fall and beyond. And check out Reading Recycled, which gives new and gently-used books to families, shelters, schools, laundromats and pantries—any place a child may want to read.
Start your own little free library: We’ve got tips on how to do it here.Header photo: Photo by Skylar Jean on Unsplash