Summer learning list has activities for youths

Staff writerJune 16, 2014 

The Foundation for Tacoma Students set an ambitious goal last fall: to compile and catalog all summer youth programs in the greater Tacoma area.

“We made the hard push the last 60 days,” said Carmetrus Parker, a coordinator with the nonprofit foundation. “We are very pleased with the product.”

Their efforts resulted in an online map that categorizes summer youth programs by cost, activity and grade level, among other factors.

As summer gets into full swing for most students this week, the foundation hopes to help families reduce student learning loss.

Parker said the map lists a wide variety of summer programs, from beginning grammar classes to flag football.

The map, a part of the foundation’s Summer Learning Tacoma initiative, also identifies which programs provide financial aid.

Eric Wilson, the foundation president, said this is the first time there’s been such an extensive, one-stop inventory of summer programs in the area.

Patrick Cummings, director of research and evaluation for Tacoma Public Schools, said students not engaged in summer activities often don’t retain information learned during the previous school year.

“Some kids don’t have access to some of these highly engaging activities, and they come back in the fall having to catch up,” he said. “We have known the effects of this for some time, for decades.”

Cummings said the effect is more prevalent with lower-income students, who are less likely to have stimulating opportunities during the summer months.

He said students often suffer a dramatic loss in reading ability — and to a lesser extent, math skills — during the long break.

Working with the summer learning initiative, Tacoma Public Schools will put on two new summer programs for upper-elementary students in lower-income neighborhoods.

Transportation will be provided to and from the program sites, school district spokesman Dan Voelpel said.

The programs will take place at the School of the Arts and the Science and Math Institute. They will be run by a public school instructor with the help of high school mentors.

Most students were selected for the programs before school ended last week.

See for yourself

To use the new interactive map of Tacoma-area summer programs, go online to summerlearningtacoma.org.

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