Summer is a time for fun and relaxation — and a break from school. Summer also is a time of great opportunity. In Dubuque, we are lucky to have a wide variety of programs and events through which students can play and learn in hands-on, enriching environments.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading partners recognize the importance that every child have access to a variety of opportunities that support continued engagement and learning during the summer. Without school experiences to challenge them, many students will decline in reading ability as well as other skills. This is known as the “summer slide.”
Children from low-income families are disproportionately impacted, losing as much as three months of reading comprehension skills over the summer. Over time, this learning loss adds up. If a child can’t read at grade-level by third grade, they are four times more likely to not graduate. Graduation means career opportunities, training in a trade, or college, which for many low-income students offers a path out of poverty.
Thankfully, meaningful opportunities at home and in the community support reading and math comprehension and social-emotional development, often without children even realizing it! Every word spoken, every bit of engagement builds connections in a child’s brain. Summer learning applies what they’ve learned in the classroom to real life. Simply spending time in nature, for example, could lead to an “ah-ha” moment that sparks interest in a topic and encourages them to read about it, thus boosting their skills.
Schools and community partners can also be involved without providing a typical “summer school” setting. For example, The Dubuque Community School District, St. Mark Youth Enrichment, and the Dream Center all offer literacy programs during the summer that are taught by certified teachers. Each program works with community partners to offer exciting enrichment opportunities, as well as meals, with the goal of continued learning and summer fun.
Right here in Dubuque, our community offers a wide variety of opportunities for fun and engaged learning in the summer, such as literacy programs, camps, concerts, festivals, day programs, outdoor exploration, music and theater. We set up a page on our website, readdbq.org/summerfun, to show a listing of the many fun activities that were happening throughout Dubuque. We are excited to bring it back in the spring to help families plan their next summer of enriching fun.