Ah, summer. Lazy days of playing with friends, extended cartoon watching and forgetting at least some of what was learned over the school year.
It’s an actual phenomenon called “summer learning loss,” a regression in students’ academic skills over the summer months that, recent studies show, can shave years off a student’s academic progress.
“What statistics will tell you,” says Donna Ferraro, president of the Boys and Girls Club of Monterey County, “is that if [kids] don’t have access to summer programming, by the time they get to fifth grade they’re two to three years behind the kids who have access. That’s criminal.”
The club, which serves more than 4,800 local youths at its facilities in Seaside and Salinas, takes on the problem every summer: It transitions from an after-school club into a kind of school itself.
To curb learning loss, the club offers a “Summer Success” program five mornings a week. While this type of structured summer learning is not new to the club, this is the first year that will include pre – and post-testing.
“This year we’re being more deliberate in what we’re doing,” Ferraro says.
The cost for kids to attend the eight-week program is $125, which includes a daily breakfast, lunch and snack, as well as a T-shirt and field trip every week.
Even at that price, 50 percent of the kids enrolled in the program are on a subsidized scholarship.
“I think we serve the children who need us most,” Ferraro says.
On a recent visit to the Seaside facility, one girl, Bernice, reveals her favorite book is Coraline, “because it’s a little bit scary.”
Another youngster, Jose, is equally enthusiastic. “This club makes me like school,” he says. “I’m getting really good [at math].”