By Sarah Pitcock
CEO, National Summer Learning Association
June 19 is National Summer Learning Day! In celebration, school districts, community-based organizations, mayors, museums, libraries, and others across the country will host more than 700 local events as part of an annual national advocacy day led by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) to help ensure that every young person is safe, healthy, and learning throughout the summer.
Why is this important, particularly to museums and libraries? Every summer, low-income youth tend to lose two to three months of reading achievement while their higher-income peers make gains. And, most youth lose about two months of math grade-level equivalency skills during the summer. These losses are cumulative over the years and contribute significantly to the reading achievement gap that ultimately leads many young people to drop out of high school. In addition, nearly 85 percent of students who receive federally subsidized meals during the school year do not have access to those meals during the summer.
Schools can’t address these challenges alone; the whole community has a role to play in keeping young people safe, healthy, and engaged in learning over the summer. This certainly includes museums and libraries as centers of learning. To support this effort, the Urban Libraries Council and NSLA have formed a partnership, supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, to identify and share effective models, inspire innovation, and build national awareness of public libraries as leaders in summer learning.
Of course, it’s nothing new for museums and libraries to offer great summer programs for young people, but it’s important for all of us to make the most of these offerings. To do so, we need to engage policymakers and the general public for support. We need to strengthen relationships with public schools, and we need to keep up with and use the latest research on high-quality, effective programming for the young people who need it the most.
NSLA can help. We have resources to support your efforts in all of these activities:
- Summer Learning Day (SLD) is a great opportunity to celebrate your local work and raise awareness of policymakers, families, and your larger community about the challenge of summer learning loss and how you are addressing it. Pledge to keep kids learning and register your SLD event on our interactive national map. Visit NSLA’s website for ideas for activities, press releases, summer learning tip sheets, and more.
- Your museum or library can partner with public schools as well as other community-based summer learning program providers to maximize your reach and resources. Check out our New Vision for Summer School network of school districts committed to high-quality summer learning as well as our community systems-building initiative supporting comprehensive partnerships to deliver great summer learning programs to all who need them.
- Engage our program quality team and partners for training and technical assistance to make the most of your program’s resources.
Join us on Summer Learning Day, June 19, and throughout the year to make every summer the best it can be for all of our young people! For more information, visit www.summerlearning.org.