Temperatures are dropping and holiday decorations are appearing in storefront windows, so summer may seem a long way off. But evidence shows that now is actually the optimal time to start planning for summer programs.
And additional research finds that students from low-income families can get meaningful benefits in reading and math, as well as bolster their social and emotional skills, with frequent attendance in high-quality voluntary programs. This makes summer an opportune time to help level the playing field for these children.
You can find these reports and much more in the Summer Learning section of our site. We’ve also selected a slew of tools here to help you get started in planning before the end of the year:
- The Summer Learning Toolkit: a free online compendium of more than 50 evidence-based resources. They include customizable tools such as a program observation instrument; sample documents, like staff handbooks and enrollment forms, from the five districts; tip sheets from field experts; and guidance for how to effectively use each resource, with explanations of what the resource is, why it’s important and whom it can benefit.
- RAND’s full set of recommendations on implementing high-quality summer learning programs, which can be found in Getting to Work on Summer Learning: Recommended Practices for Success, 2nd Edition. The recommendations include starting planning no later than January; operating the program five to six weeks with three to four hours of academics each day; establishing a firm enrollment deadline and clear attendance policy; and hiring teachers who have grade-level and subject-matter experience.
- More recently, the National Academies of Sciences released a report, Shaping Summertime Experiences, that looks at summer in relation not only to academic learning but also to social and emotional development; physical and mental health; and safety, risk-taking and pro-social behavior. The report offers recommendations to improve the availability, accessibility, equity and effectiveness of summertime experiences for children and youth.
Our recently published summer learning perspective offers five lessons, with tips, from the work of the districts and their partner organizations. Other resources and reports focus on recruitment, funding and related aspects of implementing summer programming. By starting planning now, you can help ensure strong logistics, better prepared teachers and, ultimately, a more successful experience for participating students.