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Resources to help you plan a game-changing summer

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Resources to help you plan a game-changing summer

Last week, in partnership with National Summer Learning Association, Every Hour Counts, and the Wallace Foundation, we hosted the webinar Planning for a Game-changing Summer to present the data and resources available for programs to help kids learn, explore, and connect this summer. We were joined by experts and education leaders Jennifer McCombs, Director of Research at Learning Policy Institute; Nikki Yamashiro, Vice President of Research at Afterschool Alliance; Brodrick Clarke, Vice President of Programs at National Summer Learning Association; Lorna Smith, CEO of Horizons National; and Matthew Hathaway, Founder of Teachers in the Parks in Pennsylvania.

The current situation

Summer programs provide youth with the opportunity to be active, connect with peers, and engage with learning outside of the traditional school year. Prior to the pandemic, participation in summer programming was at the highest level ever recorded by the America After 3PM 2020 report, with 12.6 million kids in summer enrichment. However, for every child in a summer learning program, one more is waiting to get in. With the onset of the pandemic, staffing shortages, reduced capacity, and waitlists began limiting the number of youth served during the summer.

A summer of growth and learning

Summer presents an opportunity for programs to help promote student achievement, provide enrichment opportunities, and target resources to those most in need, according to a 2019 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. However, while summer programs can create lasting benefits for students, they are not guaranteed without certain practices. To create effective programs that benefit youth, Jennifer McCombs shares four key qualities:

  1. Sufficient duration and regular attendance

Programming should be offered 5-6 weeks over multiple summer months, with one to two instructional hours per subject per day in order to ensure sufficient engagement time in academic context. To promote regular attendance, it is recommended that programs signal attendance expectations in recruiting material and continue reminders throughout the program duration.

  1. Quality instruction (both academics and enrichment)

When possible, hire certified teachers with relevant grade-level and subject expertise for academic classes. Although new data finds that 87 percent of afterschool programs report that they are concerned about finding staff to hire, programs can attract summer educators by emphasizing benefits for students, small class sizes, provided curriculum, half-day schedules, and departmentalization.

  1. Targeted to student needs

The first step in approaching this summer is identifying what students need most from their summer learning programs. From there, programs can align recruitment, curriculum, and staffing to those needs. See further recommendations in the 2018 report Getting to Work on Summer Learning by Wallace Foundation and Rand Corporation.

  1. Positive site climate

Staff are critical in fostering a positive summer site climate for youth. By training staff on the culture of the site, behavioral expectations of adults and children, and the importance of adult engagement, programs can support positive behavior and outcomes. “Create programs you would want your children to attend,” closes Jennifer.

Research in action

Teachers in the Park is a summer learning organization that offers students math and reading programming in an informal, outdoor setting. With many families struggling to secure transportation for their children in the summer, founder Matthew Hathaway cites the unique flexibility of out-of-school time programs. Building relationships with organizations and community centers is critical to expanding programming for youth and reaching underserved communities. “Think about where your children already are,” he emphasizes.

Horizons National offers another perspective of what summer programming can look like. The Horizons program model follows four pillars: project-based learning in literacy, math, and art taught by professional teachers; opportunities to explore diverse topics; emphasis on social-emotional learning; and engaging students, families, teachers and schools to build an inclusive learning community.

Looking forward

As the field looks toward the future and begins to plan for the summer of 2022, our panelists offer their final advice for programs:

  • Create partnerships within the community to help expand summer learning for underserved youth
  • Plan ahead and set your intentions for the summer
  • Create unique opportunities and programming that are complementary to the school year.

Matthew closes with the most important takeaway from the conversation, “Create a space where children want to be.”

To learn more about resources available to help make this game-changing summer, check out the full webinar recording.

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BY: Tierra Easter      01/25/22

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BY: Guest Blogger      01/24/22

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In the American Rescue Plan, funds are allocated specifically for “the implementation of evidence-based interventions aimed specifically at addressing learning loss, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year...

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      01/04/22

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BY: Guest Blogger      10/29/21

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BY: Jodi Grant      07/14/22

The future of learning

Photo: Courtesy of YMCA of Honolulu at Herton Branch By Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. This article originally was published as a Mott Perspectives piece on the Foundation’s website. It has been reposted here with permission. This is a...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/21/22

$1.8M awarded to middle school out-of-school time programs

The New York Life Foundation and the Afterschool Alliance are pleased to announce the 2022 Aim High grant recipients. In its sixth year, the Aim High grant has provided a total of $7.95 million dollars to help fund afterschool, summer and expanded learning programs as they help middle school...

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BY: Alexis Steines      03/18/22

Celebrating Black History 365 with Howard University Television

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BY: Guest Blogger      02/28/22

Slowing down while playing catch-up: The educator Catch-22!

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BY: Guest Blogger      02/22/22

STEM and sports activities for afterschool this spring

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      02/17/22

Why afterschool programs need social and emotional learning now

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BY: Guest Blogger      01/24/22

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BY: Shaun Gray      01/18/22

How to make universal afterschool a reality in your state

By Holly Morehouse, Executive Director, Vermont Afterschool. Across the country, afterschool programs have been chronically underfunded for decades, and the unmet demand among families has reached an all-time high. In Vermont, more than 26,000 youth are waiting for an available program. This...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/11/22

Afterschool supports LGBTQ students

By Tran Tonnu, marketing manager at School's Out Washington, and Janell Jordan, King County program manager. This article originally appeared on School's Out Washington's blog on June 17, 2021. It has been republished here with their permission. For LGBTQ folks, June...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/28/22

Celebrating Juneteenth in afterschool programs

Image by William Adams from Pixabay Juneteenth National Independence Day also known as Freedom Day, or Jubilee day honors the emancipation of slaves in the United States. More than 150 years after its first celebration, the Juneteenth holiday provides an opportunity to learn and teach about the...

BY: Tierra Easter      06/17/22

$1.8M awarded to middle school out-of-school time programs

The New York Life Foundation and the Afterschool Alliance are pleased to announce the 2022 Aim High grant recipients. In its sixth year, the Aim High grant has provided a total of $7.95 million dollars to help fund afterschool, summer and expanded learning programs as they help middle school...

BY: Dan Gilbert      06/14/22

You're invited: Help amplify youth voices in afterschool!

Join us next week for Youth Voice Week! We want to hear from, and amplify, the perspectives and experiences of young people.  From Monday, March 28 to Friday, April 1, we will be sharing pieces by youth about their afterschool experiences, and what youth need after school. Afterschool...

BY: Maria Rizo      03/21/22

Celebrating Black History 365 with Howard University Television

By Keisha Nelson, Education and Outreach Manager WHUT- Howard University Television. Black History Month may only last 28 days, but opportunities for learning don’t end in February. There are many ways to celebrate the past and present contributions of Black people to U.S. history,...

BY: Guest Blogger      02/28/22

Tips for afterschool to support trans and gender non-conforming young people

Photo courtesy of The Gender Spectrum Collection. Thanks to a growing number of supports for transgender and nonbinary youth to feel safe within their school settings, afterschool programs have more resources than ever to ensure that every young person who enters their doors between the hours of...

BY: Shaun Gray      02/14/22

Anti-discrimination Take Action guides are available for free from Nickelodeon!

Sooner or later, most adults will find themselves needing to discuss big topics with young hearts and minds. While many parents and educators are comfortable acting as role models and guiding young people through certain aspects of their lives, issues like anti-racism and combatting LGBTQ+...

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Photo courtesy of Alyssa Sieb and nappy.co. By Dr. Jackie Thomspon. This blog post was originally published on the Utah Afterschool Network's blog on March 11, 2021. Langston Hughes, a great poet from the Harlem Renaissance, is one of my favorite poets. When I think about racial...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/06/22

👏 Supporting learning: Afterschool leaders rise to the challenge

As part of our campaign this holiday season to show our gratitude for afterschool professionals, we are sharing some of the extraordinary efforts undertaken by our Afterschool Ambassadors and their programs to support kids and families throughout the pandemic. We thank them, and the many...

BY: Matt Freeman      12/17/21

Afterschool supports LGBTQ students

By Tran Tonnu, marketing manager at School's Out Washington, and Janell Jordan, King County program manager. This article originally appeared on School's Out Washington's blog on June 17, 2021. It has been republished here with their permission. For LGBTQ folks, June...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/28/22

Celebrating Juneteenth in afterschool programs

Image by William Adams from Pixabay Juneteenth National Independence Day also known as Freedom Day, or Jubilee day honors the emancipation of slaves in the United States. More than 150 years after its first celebration, the Juneteenth holiday provides an opportunity to learn and teach about the...

BY: Tierra Easter      06/17/22

Meet Kaiya Jones, Afterschool Youth Ambassador

Welcome to Youth Voice Week 2022! All during the week, we'll be amplifying the voices of our Youth Ambassadors, as they share their stories and speak about the impact that afterschool has had on their lives.  Kaiya Jones is a 15-year-old student from Howard County Library System Teen...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/01/22

Meet Zhonghui Zheng and Kyla Anderson, Afterschool Youth Ambassadors

Welcome to Youth Voice Week 2022! All during the week, we'll be amplifying the voices of our Youth Ambassadors, as they share their stories and speak about the impact that afterschool has had on their lives.  Zhonghui Zheng is a 17-year-old student at Global Kids Afterschool Program in...

BY: Christopher Echevarria      03/31/22

Meet Brock Brewer and Juliana Montell, Afterschool Youth Ambassadors

Welcome to Youth Voice Week 2022! All during the week, we'll be amplifying the voices of our Youth Ambassadors, as they share their stories and speak about the impact that afterschool has had on their lives.  Brock Brewer is a 16-year-old student at Youth and Family Link Afterschool...

BY: Leah Silverberg      03/30/22

Tips for afterschool to support trans and gender non-conforming young people

Photo courtesy of The Gender Spectrum Collection. Thanks to a growing number of supports for transgender and nonbinary youth to feel safe within their school settings, afterschool programs have more resources than ever to ensure that every young person who enters their doors between the hours of...

BY: Shaun Gray      02/14/22

Mentorship "show[ed] me my self-worth... the value that I have as a human."

Photo by Josh Sorenson on Unsplash The impact of afterschool and summer programs last well beyond a student’s formative years. The relationships that afterschool youth build with the adults in their programs often lead to academic success and future leadership opportunities. Mentored youth...

BY: Tierra Easter      01/25/22

Afterschool as a teacher pathway

By Sam Piha, founder and co-director of Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation, both organizations dedicated to promoting the learning and healthy development of youth. Our national teacher shortage predated COVID-19, however there is growing evidence that suggests that the...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/20/22

Anti-discrimination Take Action guides are available for free from Nickelodeon!

Sooner or later, most adults will find themselves needing to discuss big topics with young hearts and minds. While many parents and educators are comfortable acting as role models and guiding young people through certain aspects of their lives, issues like anti-racism and combatting LGBTQ+...

BY: Shaun Gray      01/18/22

Racial equity: Learning for justice

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Sieb and nappy.co. By Dr. Jackie Thomspon. This blog post was originally published on the Utah Afterschool Network's blog on March 11, 2021. Langston Hughes, a great poet from the Harlem Renaissance, is one of my favorite poets. When I think about racial...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/06/22