With the end of the school year on us, many students nationwide will soon set aside their books until school begins again in the fall. At National Heritage Academies’ partner schools, the journey to academic excellence is constant, and one educator at Achieve Charter Academy shared how summer learning benefits scholars.

Achieve’s Dean of K-4, Teresa Sparks, helps lead the program, which is set up for in-person and hybrid learning. According to a news release, this format increases access for scholars to continue learning during the summer months.

Sparks said this summer curriculum provides scholars a variety of benefits but grouped them into three main categories: building confidence, eliminating the “summer slide,” and staying connected.

Building Confidence

Learning throughout the summer can help students increase their confidence. The curriculum for the program addresses some content scholars may have struggled with during the previous school year and previews content they will see in the upcoming year. Sparks said this strategy boosts confidence going into the next school year.

“Their confidence is huge coming in,” Sparks said. “Maybe knowing that you’re not the best reader or you’re not the best at math is going to be scary because if you didn’t feel really good about it the year before, you’re not going to feel good coming into the new year.”

She said while scholars are dealing with a lot of unknowns at the beginning of the year, summer education eliminates stress about those troublesome subjects or skills and builds a faster start.

“That confidence just helps them feel a whole lot better going into that new grade level,” Sparks said.

Eliminating the ‘Summer Slide’

The “summer slide” is a phenomenon describing the loss of knowledge for scholars that comes during the extended break from school. Sparks said the effects of the “summer slide” are apparent when a student struggles with a subject once they return to school.

“If you are not working on a weakness that you had, then obviously you’re going to start the year with an even bigger weakness,” Sparks said. “That slide or gap just becomes so much bigger.”

Achieve’s program aims to eliminate that gap as much as possible for scholars. The one-on-one class time available during the summer helps put the brakes on that pesky “summer slide.”

“If you’re practicing or working in school over summer, that helps with keeping that gap as small as it can be and maybe even fill it,” Sparks said. “That’s our goal too. We want to make sure we can fill some of those gaps or those holes if we can.”

Staying Connected

Summer may provide sunshine and warm weather, but some scholars miss the social aspect of going to school every day.

Achieve, which has outperformed the local district since it opened before the 2009-10 school year, combats this with a Summer Learning Fair. Scholars come and connect with teachers and classmates at a carnival-style event.

Sparks said some scholars might not have other kids in their neighborhood or maybe they don’t live by their classmates. She said going to school and participating in the summer learning program provides scholars with a social environment.

“I think it’s a great way to stay connected,” Sparks said. “Students get that social piece. They can be a kid and have fun and be with their friends in the summer while continuing to learn.”

National Heritage Academies (NHA) is a network of 100 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 68,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit nhaschools.com. To find the nearest charter school near you, use the NHA school finder.

Source: National Heritage Academies