How did you spend your summers as a child? Did you take swim lessons or an art class? Maybe you were in soccer camp or Girl Scouts. Summer activities aren’t just for fun, though. Those activities make sure kids are learning even when school is out, so the gains made in the classroom are not lost over the summer. Even though it may not look like traditional learning, summer activities expose students to a variety of experiences and allow them to expand their mind, preparing them to start the next school year ready to learn.

How do you find these expanded learning opportunities? That’s where Blueprint4Summer steps in to help. Blueprint4Summer is a new tool designed to help parents find the perfect summer program for their kids. You can search by any number of criteria, including interest, location, age and cost. Blueprint will then give you a list of results matching your search criteria.

While summer camps are important for all kids, they’re especially important for students in under-performing schools. More than half of the students entering Beyond School are reading two or more grade levels behind. As students who participate in summer programs make education gains over the summer, low and middle income students who do not enroll in summer activities actually experience a loss. So our students who are already behind during the school year continue to fall farther behind in the summer, starting the next school year less prepared to succeed. By the end of just fifth grade, summer learning loss creates a 2-3 year gap between wealthier and lower income students.

For lower and middle income students, two thirds of the achievement gap can be attributed to summer learning
(Johns Hopkins University). 

To close that gap, low-income families need to have access to expanded learning opportunities.

Our Beyond School program is specifically designed to close the achievement gap and set kids up for success in high school and beyond. During the 8-week summer session, students spend six hours a day with us, five days a week, with two hours of intentional academic time each day. Academic time is tailored to each student. Volunteers are trained to follow an individualized daily curriculum that addresses each student’s specific deficits.  We strive for a 1:1 student to volunteer ratio, so not only do our students get individualized attention, they also develop a relationship with their academic mentors. In addition to academic time, our students participate in a variety of enrichment activities like circus class, woodworking, gardening, swimming and sports teams, just to name a few.

And it works. Last summer, our students averaged over 5 months growth in reading in just 2 months in our program. In math, from pre- to post-test, our students averaged a 15% increase. The awesome thing about Beyond School is that we continue into the school year. That way, we’re able to build upon that growth and help our students perform at grade level. We are seeing our students grow academically, emotionally and socially– growth that sets them on a trajectory to succeed in high school and beyond.

One of our students who experienced a major growth in our program last summer is Jaylah. In just 8 weeks, she grew seven months in her reading abilities. She also began enjoying school more. Her mom told us she noticed a significant difference, “Jaylah came home excited about school. She has a new outlook.” Now Jaylah is completing 8th grade and on her way to high school, where she will have the tools she needs to succeed.

Even though there is still snow on the ground, summer is fast approaching. How are you going to prevent summer learning loss? Will you help a child in an under-performing school get back on track? Volunteer or donate to help kids be prepared to succeed in high school and beyond.