By Holly Miller, United Way of Midland County
When you hear the term “Summer Slide,” you envision lazy afternoons racing down the slide or taking a fun ride into the pool. In education, the “Summer Slide” actually describes what happens when young minds sit idle for three months.
As parents approach the summer break, many are thinking about vacations, trips to the pool, new schedules—and how to juggle it all. What they might not be focusing on is how much educational ground their children could lose during the three-month break from school, particularly when it comes to reading.
United Way of Midland County is partnering with Floyd Elementary School to keep first-, second- and third-grade students engaged this summer, with a focus on reading at grade level by third grade.
What makes success in third grade so significant? It’s the year that students move from learning to read to reading to learn. Currently one in four area third graders do not read at grade level and that increases to 50% for those who are economically disadvantaged.
Floyd Elementary is working with 20 at-risk students in each grade to offer an innovative new Summer Learning Camp tailored to their needs. This includes academics, reading, fun activities, free bus transportation, along with breakfast and lunch each day.
To enhance their efforts, United Way is exploring an incentive program where kids earn “grocery bucks” for daily attendance to purchase fresh produce each week. This would include recipe ideas to ensure families have access to healthy food. We are also partnering with Messiah Lutheran Church for a semi-truck food giveaway in July for area families in need.
United Way is also supporting the Club Connect program at Floyd, ensuring all 358 students receive the yearly membership. This innovative on-line program inspires a love of reading and giving back. It provides students a fun place online to engage in reading, play learning games, explore new books and be inspired by kids who are making a difference in their communities. As part of the Club Connect program, a new Reading Oasis will also be built and stocked with hundreds of books, set in a friendly, comfortable kid-friendly setting.
“Club Connect is a cutting edge way to get kids learning and interacting with literature over the summer to help eliminate that Summer Slide,” shared principal Rod Dishaw.
As part of the national Day of Action, United Way is also installing a Born Learning Trail on the playground at Floyd. This new interactive trail helps to boost school readiness with nine engaging games that are placed along the trail to reinforce learning and promote physical activity. Additionally, there will be a 24/7 Little Free Library at the start of the trail where kids can take or leave a book all year long.
"The wonderful thing about living in Midland County is that whenever there is something important and worthwhile to do for children you can count on everyone stepping up to help," shared a parent of a Floyd student. “Thank you to a community that values our kids, their education, and future.”
The United Way of Midland County advances the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. Our focus is on education, health and self-sufficiency—the building blocks for a good life.