Programs help kids avoid 'summer brain drain' - Albuquerque Journal

Programs help kids avoid ‘summer brain drain’

Mentor Monchie Curliss reads to children as they enjoy ice pops during a session of the Native American Summer Enrichment program. (Courtesy of SFPS/Native American Student Services)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The “summer brain drain,” or the “summer slide,” is a term commonly used by educators and parents to describe the learning loss that takes place for many students during summer months, when students are on hiatus from school.

These are not just catchy labels to entice parents to get their kids involved in some kind of academic pursuit during the lazy days of summer. It is a very real phenomenon.

Studies indicate that kids typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer.

Exactly how much loss occurs is debatable.

One study by Oxford Learning said that students lose an average of two months in reading proficiency, 2.6 months in math skills, and that it takes six weeks in the fall to relearn that lost material.

As part of the Albuquerque Journal’s ongoing Literacy Project, here are some summer programs that have a strong literacy component and may prevent kids’ brains from academically sliding in the wrong direction.

BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS OF CENTRAL NEW MEXICO: With one location in Albuquerque and one in Rio Rancho, the clubs offer a Summer Brain Gain program that provides recreational activities as well as themed activities related to a variety of core school subjects, including reading. Staff and AmeriCorps members will be on hand to work with the kids. The cost is $75 at the Albuquerque club and $100 at the Rio Rancho club. The fee includes breakfast, lunch and snacks, and financial aid is available for qualifying families. To learn more, call 881-0777, or go online to www.bgccnm.org.

COLLABORATIVE SUMMER LIBRARY PROGRAM: New Mexico is among the majority of states participating in a summer reading program. Nearly all libraries in the state have access to the Collaborative Summer Library Program, which is funded by the New Mexico State Library. There is no cost to local libraries or kids who enroll in it.

Local librarians have gone through training on how to use program materials and how to incorporate activities, artwork, prizes and other incentives to get young people to read.

The theme this year is “Tails and Tales,” and kids are encouraged to select books that help them discover the diversity of animal life on our planet and the wonder of storytelling.

Libraries have a lot of autonomy in terms of age range of those who can register, specific prizes and incentives offered, and the length of time the program will operate. Most generally continue through July, and some run until just before the new school year begins.

To enroll in the program, go to the website for your local library, or give them a call.

In Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, go to abqlibrary.org/summerreading; in Rio Rancho, visit rrnm.gov/4280/Summer-Reading; and in Santa Fe, see santafelibrary.org/children/summer-reading-program.

MAY CENTER FOR LEARNING: Based in Santa Fe, the May Center for Learning has classes for pre-K, starting at age 3, through eighth grade. The center focuses on students with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, as well as specialized professional development for teachers in the science of reading and a structured approach to teaching reading.

The May Center also offers a four-week summer literacy program for kids in Santa Fe for kids pre-K through eighth grade; and a six-week summer literacy program for kids in Albuquerque in third through eighth grades.

There is a cost to the summer programs, but financial aid is available for both.

For further information or to register, go to maycenter.org and under the “services” heading click on “summer programs,” or call (505) 983-7407.

NATIVE AMERICAN SUMMER ENRICHMENT CAMP: This free summer camp is geared toward Native American kids in first through seventh grade who are enrolled in the Santa Fe Public Schools. Summer activities incorporate reading, math and hands-on projects. Many of the cultural activities are designed to build community, self esteem, identity and knowledge of traditional and contemporary Native arts and crafts. The camp also distributes free books for kids to take home and build their own personal libraries. Reading mentors and other activity volunteers are provided and trained by Mentoring Kids Works NM. The camp is paid for by state and federal grants. For more information, go online to www.SFPS.info, and click on Native American Enrichment Camp in the chart.

READING QUEST: This program provides free or sliding scale school-year tutoring to first through eighth grade students from the Santa Fe Public Schools and surrounding areas, as well as professional development for elementary school teachers, and training and coaching for parents and teens. It also offers a “Reading Is Magic” free summer camp program for Santa Fe Public Schools middle school students and elementary school students in second, third and fourth grades. In addition, Reading Quest provides free one-on-one summer reading tutoring.

The organization’s professional reading tutors work in the schools and in after-school programs during the school year, and it has trained teen and college-age tutors to support the after-school and summer programs.

For more information to go to www.readingquestcenter.org; or email at readingquestcenter@gmail.com.

STORY TIME IN THE PARK (APS TITLE 1): This Albuquerque Public Schools program is geared toward elementary school children and their families. The intent is to encourage children to read, and parents to read to and with their children. It will be held daily through July 15 at 28 locations – mostly parks, but some community centers and low-income housing communities as well. Free grab-and-go lunch will be provided Mondays through Fridays, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free books and related lesson plans with reading strategies and parent tip sheets will be distributed by teachers Mondays through Thursdays. For Story Time in the Park locations and times, go to www.aps.edu/title-i/story-time-in-the-park.

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