Preventing the Summer Slide

July 3, 2012

The importance of summer enrichment is becoming more and more important to the children that the YWCA serves. Over the past year, the YWCA has participated in a citywide workgroup sponsored by Belk and the Summer Learning Institute to determine summer needs, strengths and develop a work plan. This research indicated that children experience a learning phenomenon called "Summer Slide." This means that children who do not maintain their academic skills through the summer experience a loss. This is especially concerning for children who may already be behind.

In response to the research reviewed, the YW summer enrichment program staff has enhanced the summer curriculum and set new goals to combat the "summer slide" and help the students retain and enhance the information they learned during the school year.

Following the Kidz Lit and Kidz Math curriculum, the YWCA Summer Enrichment Program serves over 60 children across the metro Birmingham area in grades K - 8.

Participants are divided into four classrooms each day based on their grade level. Each day begins with focusing on the "Daily Five Protocol": reading to self, reading to a partner, listening to reading, writing and vocabulary development. The teachers introduce skills and the children have opportunities to practice them in various hands-on activities. 

Special attention is given to help strengthen math skills. The students are learning about geometry and space by constructing structures. Manipulative materials are used to offer hands-on opportunities to develop skills in place value, fractions, decimals, patterns, money, measurement and time. 

"Although we have a very structured program, we work very hard to keep the children engaged by presenting these materials in an exciting way," said Delyne Hicks, Senior Director of Child Care Services. "In addition to learning, we want the children to have fun," Hicks added.

Because research has also shown that children in low income situations tend to lead more sedentary lives, students are engaged in a daily PE program which uses the Alabama Fitness Standards. In addition to learning the fundamentals of team sports, the children are also able to engage in fun activities such as Nintendo Wii "Just Dance" games.

The group also has various activities planned for the duration of the summer. Field trips have been scheduled to the Children's Dance Foundation, the McWane Science Center, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the library. All students will visit the Independent Presbyterian Church Fresh Air Farm for swimming on Fridays.

All activities are provided to program participants free of charge with all supplies being provided by the support of our generous donors and the YWCA.  

When asked what makes the YWCA Summer Enrichment Program different than any other summer program, After School Enrichment Coordinator Cassandra Matthews says that "we serve special children and our program is special because we are able to focus on the needs of each individual child." 

The YWCA would like to extend a special thank you to the Birmingham Board of Education, the Belk Foundation, the Joseph S. Bruno Foundation and the Crippled Children Foundation - the major donors that support this program.

A special thank you to Belk stores for outfitting the boys in our Summer Enrichment Program.

To help support the Summer Enrichment Programs and other YWCA programs, click here.