Hooray — it’s summer! Time to sit back, relax, and not worry about learning. Right? Well, no.
We can all appreciate that summer is a time of fun, but it’s also a critical period when students can lose a lot of academic progress they’ve made throughout the school year. While the summer slide can impact children and teens of all socio-economic levels, research demonstrates that youth from low-income families are disproportionately affected. In fact, longitudinal studies show that children from low-income families lose two to three months of reading skills every summer, while their higher-income peers actually make slight gains. These losses add up. By fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave low-income students more than two years behind their peers, according to the National Summer Learning Association.
That’s why the YMCA of Metro Atlanta offers affordable day camps where participants learn to swim, play sports, make friends, and learn through fun and engaging activities. Whether it’s at STEAM Camp where they can tinker in the makerspace and learn to edit videos or through field trips to the Chattahoochee Nature Center where they discover nature journaling, Y campers don’t stop learning.
This summer, the Andrew and Walter Young Family Y is working with Synchronicity Theatre to bring arts education to our campers. For one hour every day, professional actors guide nine- through 12-year-olds through the various components of theater by having them act, dance, use puppetry and sing folktales. Campers learn the difference between dialogue and narrative, how to use metaphors and similes to paint a picture for the audience, and the importance of themes to tell a story — all without them even knowing that they are learning.
Once they understand the basics of theater, participants work in small groups to write their own plays with the guidance of Synchronicity staff. By the end of the six-week program, youth will have conceptualized, written and acted out their original works for their fellow campers as well as their families. Through this partnership, children and teens not only sharpen their reading and writing skills they also develop soft skills such as communication, teamwork and critical thinking that are key to returning to school ready for success.
This program is just one of many ways the Y works to ensure academic achievement for all students. At the Y, we believe that all people, especially children, deserve an equal chance to reach their full potential.
By Laura Kahn
Development Manager, Grants and Capital Campaigns