Reading and summer go together like sunshine and ice cream!
The YMCA’s Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program (SLLP) has just finished it’s third summer of improving literacy skills for children in low income communities. As one of the pilot programs in 2015 (and one of 29 states participating in this Y initiative last summer), we have seen, first hand, the importance of keeping children engaged in reading during the summer, and the benefits it has on their school year academics and social interactions.
Literacy has been a huge focus for the YMCA. National studies show that children in third grade who are reading below grade level are more susceptible to dropping out of high school, which will likely lead to lower wage jobs, a higher propensity for substance abuse, incarceration, and lower self-esteem. The Y is helping to combat illiteracy with our Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program that has been running in the Ledge Street School for the past two summers and now, upon request of the district, has expanded to a second school in 2017 – Dr. Norman Crisp Elementary School, a Title 1 school in downtown Nashua. For 6 weeks this summer, 50 low-income first and second graders with deficiencies in reading are participating in an intensive literacy program which uses the Y’s national evidence-based curriculum (a combination of the 4 blocks model and engaging enrichment activities) to promote success and enrichment both in the classroom and beyond.
At our Y, statistics from the post-assessment of the program showed that 95% of the kids in the program increased their percentile rank on the STAR Assessment (used to evaluate students’ abilities and identify what they’ve already mastered and where they still struggle). Our first graders gained more than a full year of reading progress in the 6 weeks of the program and our second graders gained 2 months of reading progress instead of losing the average 2.5 months to the standard “the summer learning loss”.
“I love this program for so many reasons! My son seems so much more confident than normal. He can get very intimidated in a large class, and often doesn’t participate. Every day he comes out smiling and so excited to tell me something new he learned or a new game he played and about a new friend he made. It’s truly amazing. Thank you!”
New in the summer of 2016 was the ‘reading buddies’ program which began as a way to engage some of the more reluctant readers. Our Site Director reached out to a contact who was affiliated with the Merrimack High School football team and through this process, she was able to get in touch with the head coach, Kip Jackson, who was really excited to be able to help out and give back to a program and organization with which he connected to on a personal level. “We asked to have some members of the football team come Tuesdays and Thursdays for our self-selected reading section of our day. Their responsibility was to simply be a warm smile for kids to read to and to read with. We were overwhelmed with the response from the kids and the students who came to help out. Additionally, the football players also stayed for an extra half hour every day to play with our students on the playground. It was a truly amazing experience and the young men who volunteered their time were so polite and kind, and amazing role models for our students. We even had a few attend a field trip one day simply because they wanted to hang out with some of the kids,” said Rebecca Leary, SLLP Site Director.
“At the start of the football season, some of the players asked if there was a way they could get our kids out to their first home game. Coach Jackson reached out to Sarah Sutherland, the program director, and arranged for some of the kids to attend the game with their families.
This is definitely a tradition that we are going to continue next year because of how successful it was. The kids were willing to put in the work and push themselves because it meant that they would get to spend an hour hanging out with their idols – the football players,” Rebecca said.
“Isabella’s increased love of reading, writing and friends [were the best part of the program]. There was not a day that she didn’t want to go, she always woke up excited to go learn, play and see her friends. This was a big change from how the school year was.”
Thank you to our sponsors:
- YMCA of the USA Strategic Initiatives Fund
- Children’s Literacy Foundation
- Dollar General Literacy Foundation
- People’s United Community Foundation
- New Hampshire Charitable Foundation
- Eversource Energy
- Merrimack County Savings Bank
- New York Life and Nashua New York Life agent Earl Prolman
- Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua
- Rotary Club of Nashua
- Rotary Club of Nashua West
- The City of Nashua
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