At the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), we believe children deserve an amazing summer filled with fun and engaging learning opportunities through quality summer programs that help them thrive year-round. Years of research has shown us that participation in high-quality summer learning programs can improve children’s reading and math skills, engagement in school, motivation, and relationships with adults and peers.
With so many programs to choose from, you may be wondering how to identify and select a high-quality summer program. Here are some questions to consider when choosing the best summer experience for your child:
- Does the program provide a SAFE and supportive environment?
- Does the program incorporate a MINDFUL approach that values different learning styles and nurtures the social, emotional development of children?
- Does the program find ways to make sure children and families feel INCLUDED?
- How does the program incorporate LEARNING opportunities for children?
- What strategies does the program use to keep children meaningfully ENGAGED?
You can begin your search for summer programs by asking your child what topics he/she is interested in exploring over the summer. Have a conversation with your child’s teacher before the end of the school year to ascertain areas of learning where your child may need additional support.
Some schools and libraries offer learning experiences and meal programs during summer so talk with teachers and a visit to your local library may be helpful in identifying programs early. You can also talk with other parents at your child’s school or leaders in your community to see if they have recommendations. Whatever program you ultimately choose, make sure it’s an experience that will spark curiosity and foster learning on your child’s own terms.
Leslie Gabay-Swanston is Director of Program and Systems Building with the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA). Leslie is responsible for translating NSLA’s strategic priorities into services, projects, and partnerships that strengthen summer learning programs and build capacity for providers, intermediaries, and communities.