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Perspective | How to be a summer learning champion

Summer is a great time to get creative to help children have a strong start in the next school year. That’s why we at the NC Early Childhood Foundation have updated our Summer Learning Toolkit. It’s for everyone who interacts with children — camp counselors, librarians, faith leaders, teachers — and those at locations where books are distributed or where families can receive summer meals. The toolkit provides guidance for program staff and fun tips to share with parents to keep children learning all summer long.

Why is summer learning so important?

Summer learning, in general, is important since children may experience learning loss during school breaks, but this summer is especially important to keep children learning. The pandemic has challenged us all, including our children — academically, socially, and emotionally. So, this summer, we need to work extra hard to help kids get ready for the next school year. While academic achievement usually slows down or declines over the summer, learning loss can add up, affecting children’s reading and math. Some kids may never catch up. Summer programs play a vital part of summer learning and can help close the opportunity gap for children in low-income families.

We know what children need to thrive: a healthy beginning at birth, supported and supportive families and communities, and high-quality learning environments. Children who read books over the summer can maintain or improve their literacy skills. When elementary school students attend summer learning programs, they can benefit in both reading and math.

What’s in the Summer Learning Toolkit?

We’ve made our Summer Learning Toolkit easy to use, providing inspiring messages, fun tips, and insights into how parents can make everyday tasks like running errands become learning experiences. With this resource, program providers can champion summer learning. The toolkit will help empower providers through the ways they keep in touch with families, both remotely and in person — such as during drop-off and pick-up. And best of all, when we set out to create the toolkit, we asked parents what types of messages and tips would be most helpful.

The toolkit contains these tools, which are all also available in Spanish:

  • An orientation slideshow for program staff to understand the value of summer learning.
  • Talking points for program staff to effectively communicate with parents about summer learning.
  • A template to create a Summer Learning Action Plan so staff can continue to share the message all summer long.
  • Blogs for newsletters and websites.
  • Social media posts with photos and graphics.
  • Text messages.
  • Automated phone scripts.
  • A sticker template for Summer Learning Week.

Download the 2022 Summer Learning Toolkit. Both the English and Spanish versions are contained in the folder and files, which we’ve prepared for you.

Join us in celebrating National Summer Learning Week July 11-15, 2022. We can all be summer learning champions and lift up the significance of keeping kids healthy, learning, and ready for school. How will you celebrate?

One tip for now

Children that are regularly read to develop larger vocabularies and learn to read more easily.

Try this. Make your family’s shopping list with your child. Ask your child to group items by category. Your child can check the items off the list as you find them. Talk with children about what you’ll do with each item.

Help us share the toolkit with summer program providers in your community.

Lisa Finaldi

Lisa Finaldi has over 25 years of experience as a non-profit leader at the state, national and international levels. She leads the First 2000 Days initiative and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Through the First 2,000 Days initiative, local organizations build their public engagement capacity, position early child development as an issue that impacts all North Carolinians and engage unexpected voices as early childhood champions.