Activities, projects, and field trips promote learning to bridge the achievement gap

Summer Slide studyingMercy Home launched two programs to engage our young people during the summer months, in effort to maintain their academic retention, prepare them for the workplace, and have a little fun along the way.

The Summer Enrichment Program, for kids not enrolled in summer school, and the Summer Career Institute, for young people not eligible for employment outside of Mercy Home, kicked off a summer of learning and development around the Home. Both programs aim to prevent what’s known as the “summer slide.”

“Youth who are not in summer school or participating in any consistent learning during summer months often suffer from what’s called ‘summer slide’ or ‘summer learning loss,’ which is the tendency for students — especially those from low-income families — to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year,” said Brittany Terrell, Director of Education Resources at our boys home.

“Youth who are not in summer school or participating in any consistent learning during summer months often suffer from what’s called ‘summer slide’ or ‘summer learning loss,’ which is the tendency for students — especially those from low-income families — to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year,”

Summer learning loss is large factor in the growing achievement gap between high- and low-income families. Parents with higher incomes invest time and money in their children while lower-income families, often headed by a single parent, struggle to find time and resources, resulting in their children falling behind. Studies show that summer learning loss accounts for about two-thirds of the ninth-grade achievement gap in reading.

Mercy Home’s Summer Enrichment Program aims to bridge that gap, as does the Summer Career Institute. By engaging our young people with fun-filled activities, field trips, and projects, their minds remain active heading into the upcoming school year.

The Summer Enrichment Program begins each day with a “Morning, Mind, and Body” session to reduce anxiety and stress, using techniques such as yoga and deep breathing exercises that benefit physical and mental health.

Participants then transition to instructional lessons in various subjects like social studies, science, math, and reading. Our tutors teach subjects to the entire class, but individual packets are often tailored to our kids’ academic assessment scores, grade levels, and functioning levels, as well as their academic strengths and learning styles. Small classes allow tutors to give more personalized instruction to best fit our kids’ needs.

The Summer Enrichment Program begins each day with a “Morning, Mind, and Body” session to reduce anxiety and stress, using techniques such as yoga and deep breathing exercises that benefit physical and mental health.

Mercy Home gardenThis summer’s theme revolves around the environment and its connection to the Midwest, Chicago, Mercy Home, and each individual student. Weekly field trips are reflective of this theme, as our kids will visit the Farm on Ogden, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the Daley Plaza Farmer’s Market, and Humboldt Park for a fishing outing. Afternoons include physical activities like basketball, soccer, and volleyball, featuring special instructors who work with our kids to boost their athletic and team-building skills.

The Summer Career Institute participants will work on special projects pertaining to workplace infrastructure, while honing their skills in resume and cover letter writing. Our young people will also get to practice their interview skills in mock interviews and elevator pitches to prepare them for external job and internship opportunities next summer. The Summer Career Institute will also work to create more job opportunities on campus for younger youth.

Additionally, the Summer Career Institute boasts an impressive agenda of fields trips, with visits to Google, the United Center, ABC7 News, Circuit Judge Eve Reilly’s office, TransUnion, and The Hatchery, a food and beverage incubator dedicated to helping local entrepreneurs.

What ideas do you have for combating the Summer Slide? Any activities that are engaging, educational, and fun are best. Feel free to respond in the comments below. We look forward to hearing your ideas!

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