Providing fun opportunities to learn

winthropliteracy_5Summer literacy program blends into fun summer camp experience for Winthrop children


Why summer learning? It’s simple. Kids need it!

With all the talk about academic achievement and student success, For Kids Only Afterschool (FKO) wants to add out-of-school time learning to the conversation. Youth today face the reality of the “summer slide” each school break. Research shows youth lose about two months of grade level equivalency in math and reading skills over summer.

To address this problem, FKO was selected to join the Summer Learning Collaborative, a literacy initiative of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. The Summer Learning Collaborative provides training, project-based curriculum resources and funding for a literacy coach. At FKO in Winthrop, the literacy coach Judy Hanlon works with children twice a week to turn learning loss into learning gains.

At a recent session, Hanlon, a retired Winthrop teacher, read I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff to over 30 attentive five to ten year olds. One young boy explained how his mom once surprised him with three gerbils as they discussed a book in which a young boy named Alex works to convince his mom why he should have an iguana.

Soon the children had a chance to participate in fun and engaging, hands on activities such as storytelling, arts and sports with FKO out-of-school time educators. Hanlon helped one group to learn transition words as they weaved together tales of mermaids and sharks. Once finished, the young authors illustrated their story and read it to their fellow students.

As children provided accolades to their peers for their clever tales, the young authors smiled with confidence. For Hanlon, that was all she needed to know she was on the right track of providing a meaningful experience during the critical summer months.