Summer Literacy Enhancement Project
The Center for Summer Learning tells us that most students show lower achievement scores in math and reading at the end of summer and that students from lower income homes experience greater summer learning losses which compound over time. Unequal access to summer programs that support learning is cited as a major factor. This may contribute to lower income students being less likely to graduate from high school or enter college.
The Staten Island Foundation Summer Literacy Enhancement Project was designed to address this “summer literacy gap.” Summer should never be a break in any child’s intellectual development and all children can benefit from enriching summer activities that support school instruction.
Local summer programs range from mandated remedial work in school settings to traditional outdoor recreation camps. The Foundation’s Summer Literacy Enhancement Project encourages literacy during “fun” activities including art, music, dance, drama, storytelling, educational games, science experiments, writing, cooking, gardening, field trips, group reading, and more. It is intended to promote a love of reading as a tool for life-long personal growth.
Examples of activities supported include: a literacy specialist at Community Resources integrating dramatic play, puppetry, and music with reading; at-risk teens in Staten Island Mental Health’s summer program learning theater craft with Sundog Theatre’s teaching artist in order to enhance writing skills; students at St. Charles’ Villamarin Science and Math Academy focusing on writing, word study, and reading as they created a science journal and designed web pages; members of the Alvin Ailey dance camp IS 61 keeping a daily journal; and Literacy, Inc. training teens in the Stapleton Housing Project to tutor younger children resulting in increased daily reading for all participants.
There have been commendable outcomes in spite of the brevity of summer programs. Campers aged 4 through 10 years old, who participated in weekly themed camps at The Staten Island Children’s Museum, showed increases in reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills that were evaluated by standards-based rubrics. Summer day campers visiting Historic Richmond Town participated in a Victorian parlor game that enhanced literacy skills through visual interpretation, with 51% achieving highest skill level. Special education students at PS 373, ages 5-11 were instructed in writing as well as blogging and photography and an increased number of students met standards on an August ELA re-test. English Language Learners, grades 4 through 8 received an intensive ELA program through Project Hospitality that improved reading skills as demonstrated by before and after program reading comprehension and vocabulary tests.