The end of a school year is a celebration for many, but for some it signals the loss of learning and relationships for the summer months. Not only do many kids stop reading, writing and computing, they stop connecting with others-especially adults outside of family. Our schools have grappled with a variety of summer programs and incentives to keep kids reading and learning. As I noted in my previous blog Summer Slip and Slide there is a mix of results, primarily because the onus is on the student and their family to maintain stamina and momentum over the summer months. These students then often struggle to transition back into school routines and expectations.
One of our brilliant guidance counselors, Michelle Michaud, has watched this phenomenon over the years in her role as a building principal and counselor and felt compelled to address some of the aspects which cause students to struggle. She noticed that it often took until October for some students to settle back in to routines and expectations. She designed a SUMMER KIDS pilot for this year to address her biggest concerns.
“As I began to think about summer and all the kids who struggle with the transition out of school for the summer-that got me thinking about how students struggle to adjust back to the order of school after a summer off. So I thought about how to keep a connection, a way for them to remember that we are still around and that school is still here while they are away.”– Michelle Michaud
Several students from each classroom were selected by teachers and parent opt out forms went to parents so they decide if they didn’t wanted their child to participate. There are 4 basic components to the pilot
1. Personalized Postcards Each Summer Kid will receive a post card EACH week of their summer vacation to let them know we are still here and thinking of them. Keeping the school connections strong over the summer months and providing encouragement and suggestions for learning and summer fun.
2. Popsicles on the Playground Midway through the summer there is a scheduled play date at the school playground for the children and their families to come and connect with staff and enjoy a frozen treat. Staff can check in with kids and keep those relationships with students and families going strong.
3. Book Gifts Each student will have books mailed to them 2 times during the summer to encourage reading and remind them that school is still here, waiting for their return.
4. Check In Check Out (CICO) Each Summer Kid participant will have a staff member check in with them at the beginning and end of each day during the entire month of September to help the transition back into school. Teachers can praise and encourage the good work and effort of students and be available to process and problem solve any difficult situations. Any student who continues to need help/support will continue to have CICO or we will design a more appropriate support.
Michelle purchased the postcards and the staff who wished to participate could fill them out before the end of the school year. She and our fantastic principal would send them out each week of the summer and plan the Popsicles on the Playground event. The teachers were excited about helping out and connecting with kids, the students are going to be so thrilled to know that somebody is thinking about them and caring about them all summer long, and the parents will know that we are there for them and their child all year long.
I love that the focus isn’t about raising test scores or grades, but on supporting the student as a human being first. Addressing their transition issues, strengthening relationships, building positive images of schools and education, and seeing the whole child would most likely lead to stronger achievement. But showing kindness and caring will even more likely lead to healthier children-physically, intellectually and emotionally. THAT is a greater mission.
Do YOU know a Summer Kid you could reach out to?
What’s on My Book Radar?
This summer I want to participate in the 6th Annual Nerdy Book Club Bookaday Challenge. Since I am also going to try to Kate Messner’s #TeachersWrite challenge, my reading time will have to share the stage with my writing time. To be able to read a Book a Day, I am going to seriously catch up on some picture book reading. I’ll start with Maine’s Chickadee Award Nominees for 2014
Here are a few of the books I am anxious to dive into: