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Detroit Celebrates Summer Learning Day 2018

On July 12th, cities across the country, including Detroit, celebrated National Summer Learning Day, a nation-wide effort to spread the importance of keeping kids safe, healthy and learning during the summer months.

While summer is traditionally thought of as a time for outdoor fun, vacations and the absence of anything learning related, the months in between school years can be incredibly important to a student’s development and preparedness for the coming fall. But in Detroit, summer learning isn’t celebrated on just one day of the year. Thanks to numerous partnerships and initiatives, summer learning has become a priority across the city with numerous programs, camps and other opportunities available to youth.

One example of this can be seen at the Summer Fun Centers, a partnership between the Detroit Public School Community District and the City of Detroit’s Parks and Recreation Department. Open to youth ages 6-17, the centers provide indoor and outdoor activities, tutoring, arts and crafts, games, and a meal served each day. Some locations also provide a special literacy program focused on helping 1-4 graders maintain and improve their reading skills. Students can meet one-on-one and in small groups with trained tutors and participate in fun activities all aimed at helping them become stronger readers. We should mention somewhere in here that the literacy programming is supported by the Skillman Foundation.

“Keeping students engaged is such an important part of learning in general,” said Colleen Davisson, a Summer Fun Center literacy program site director. “We meet the kids where they are and try and help them move to the next step. It makes a huge difference in helping them move from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’.”

The one-on-one attention many of the students receive at the centers is also an important aspect of their learning experience.

“I think it’s really about the one-on-one experience because I don’t know how much one-on-one attention they get at home or in school. I think they really like the relationship that we can build with them,” said Mira Lupeo, one of the volunteer tutors.

The centers’ various programs, especially the literacy tutoring, are all focused on combating summer slide, a phenomenon that can cause students to lose a significant amount of material during the summer. This setback can hit students living in poverty even harder, losing 2-3 months worth of material over the break.

However, initiatives like National Learning Day and the Summer Fun Centers are helping to keep students engaged and learning. And while some of the participants had their doubts about “learning” during the summer, they seem to be coming around.

“At first I thought this was going to be a lot of work,” said Laniya, an attendee at one of the Centers, “but after a while I really started to have fun. We can play games and read but also learn at the same time.”

Now in its second year, the Summer Fun Center program is proof of Detroit’s commitment to summer learning, not just on one day, but all season long.

The Summer Fun Centers are open until August 11. For more information and a full list of locations, click here.

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