YMCA, USD 259 offer academic camp to prevent learning loss

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School may be out for students, but that doesn’t mean they should stop learning.

The YMCA and USD 259 partnered to create an academic camp to make sure children don’t experience summer learning loss, better known as the “summer slide.”

YSOAR (Y’s Summer of Awesome Reading Program) is designed for children entering the first and second grades that are reading below grade level.

“From first to third grade, children learn to read. From third grade on, you have to read to learn,” explained YMCA Early Learning Centers director Debbie Ogle. “We really want to give students the opportunity to build those skills in literacy.”

YSOAR offers students, identified by the school district, a free five-week program that includes academic support and enrichment activities.

According to Ogle, staff want to give students learning opportunities that some may not receive during the summer.

“They may not have the same access to going on vacation, going to museums, going to camp,” she said. “Often times they may find themselves stuck inside — maybe watching TV, watching movies. They’re really not engaging their brain or their bodies.”

YSOAR Impact

Nationwide, the Y has worked with more than 3,300 children in the YSOAR program. Results show strong gains in reading skills for all participants. In addition:

  • 97% of parents/caregivers reported that their child was “more excited to learn,” 94% reported their child showed “increased self-confidence”
  • 96% of families believed program would help their kid do better in school
  • 95% of families reported the program helped their family read more books
  • 94% reported it helped them get more engaged in their child’s education

Prevent the ‘summer slide’

The summer slide happens to all kids during the summer. YSOAR staff said not every child is enrolled in an academic camp, but there are various ways parents can prevent learning loss from happening.

  • Make time for learning: At least 15-30 minutes per day, visit a zoo or museum
  • Work on math skills: Solve 3-4 math problems per day
  • Read: Find books that catch your child’s interest and challenge them. It doesn’t always have to be a traditional reading book.

“If you do a cooking recipe and they help read that recipe, and make the cookies, they’re having to think about next steps and they’re having to think about what those words might mean,” suggested Ogle.

Experts said parents should avoid having children from sitting and watching TV or playing video games. It’s important to give children opportunities to “think outside the box or be creative thinkers.”

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