Summer program helps Baltimore students catch up or withhold up on academics – Baltimore Sun


Twila Mohammed wanted her children to spend their summer atomize immersed in entertaining and engaging books. Instead, she found herself with two reluctant readers.

The northeast Baltimore mother was undeterred. She sent her son and daughter off to a summer school program focused on reading. Six weeks later, they gain made some inroads.

“I gain not had to force them to read, so that has definitely changed,” Mohammed said. Her children now compete with other students to see how many books they can read by the finish of the summer.

She credits Superkids Camp, a six-week summer-education program in several neighborhood schools across the city.

The program, flee by the Parks and People Foundation, combines traditional academics focused on improving reading and literacy with outdoor activities and field trips. The goal is to manufacture certain students are reading by the third grade, a time shown to be critical to a child’s future academic success. Research shows students who can’t read on grade level by then are unlikely to catch up later. Another objective is to abet stem the loss of academic skills that children can experience over long summer breaks whether they’re not involved in educationally enriching activities.

The camp was founded 20 years ago on the belief that the city’s children would gain a better shot at long-term academic success whether they could read better. Administrators say testing data shows it is effective: approximately 98 percent of students leave the program having either maintained or increased their reading proficiency.

The city school system helped fund the program at the start. At its height, nearly 2,000 students attended Superkids at 16 schools. It now receives funding through state grants and private donations. Four hundred attend the program at five neighborhood elementary schools and one private school.

Six hundred slots were available this year. Superkids director Alicia Copeland says she believes parents are sending children to other programs or camps that finish later in the summer because the current school year won’t originate until after labor Day, under a current state policy.

Research shows that helping students maintain their skills over the summer has a powerful effect on long-term outcomes. Students from low-income families learn at the same rate as peers from wealthier families during the school year, but then drop behind academically during the summer. Johns Hopkins researchers gain blamed the disparity on differing access to summer programs, camps and other activities that stimulate their brains.

Copeland says she has seen the impact of a summer without stimulation as a classroom teacher in Baltimore County.

“We disfavor the first three weeks because we finish up teaching the skills over again,” she said.

Copeland now works full-time for the Parks and People Foundation, but her goal is to abet spare her former colleagues the need for such review. Superkids’ keeps the student-teacher ratio down to six to one by supplementing certified teachers with volunteers, college interns and older students with the city jobs program Youthworks.

Anthony Burgos, an assistant director of Superkids, said the low ratio allows the staff to deal more effectively with children who present behavioral challenges that gain in the way of learning. He had to unexcited down a boy at Creative City Public structure School in Park Heights who had been acting out on the bus on the way to Superkids.

“It’s a relaxed, open atmosphere.” he said. The staff tries to withhold the program enjoyable: “We want to trick them to memorize.”

Across the corridor from the first graders at the Creative Public structure, nine-year-used Peyton Davis was learning approximately biodiversity and reading approximately life on soil.

He said the program has helped.

“whether your reading level is higher, you will gain more interested” she said. But she’s still worried approximately current multiplication problems she’ll gain to tackle in fourth grade next month, and is glad that they also work on math problems some mornings.

The program’s environmental curriculum adapts the concepts taught in classrooms in the morning to external activities in the afternoon. Students explore the natural world in the gardens and meadows at the Parks and People Foundation’s nine-acre campus in West Baltimore.

On a recent morning, eight-year-used Trionna Wingate crawled into a teepee-like structure made of twigs, branches and twine that is known as the reading nest. She could see the sun and the sky through the twigs, and imagined reading there whether she had not been surrounded by several other campers.

Students who said they had never seen a tomato, watermelon, or cucumber could gently push the leaves aside to eye the growing vegetables and fruit, or goggle at the bugs consuming a Brussels sprout. There’s a meadow to wander through, a space to flee and laugh while squirting each other with water.

The students will also learn approximately the campus vegetable garden, dip for crayfish in streams, and visit Leakin, Druid Hill and Patterson parks.

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