Do you remember when you were a kid, and the school summer holidays seemed to stretch on forever?
Burning feet on hot sand, hours whiled away playing in the local outdoor pool, and the race against time to eat a delicious ice cream cone before it melted.
The days and weeks seemed to stretch on forever before it was time to return to school taller, browner and just that little bit more grown up, ready to tackle a new school year with shiny new stationery and a clean slate.
For some children, their summer memories are different. For them, school days are the best days, when there’s always a lunch even when the cupboards at home are empty.
Importantly, there’s also constant access to books, resources and learning.
The ‘summer slump’ is a real thing – when students’ learning declines, or reverses, during the six-week break. It’s noted across the board, but especially in students who don’t have access to learning opportunities over summer.
Which is where the Summer Learning Journey comes in. The programme, designed by the University of Auckland in collaboration with participating schools, was developed to help students maintain literary grades so they start the new school year with the skills, motivation and attitude to accelerate in the new environment.
Designed to be fun and flexible, the programme involves activities that can be completed in any order that the students wish, at any time, and from anywhere over the six-week break.
Activities vary from creative story writing, to expressing opinions, explaining, describing, researching, critiquing, and questioning. Students are encouraged to think laterally and take pictures and create videos that demonstrate their learning, and they file their online challenges as a blog. The most prolific bloggers from each school are recognised for their efforts at the end of the holidays.
Teachers can tell at the start of the school year which students took part in the Summer Learning Journey. Uptake of this summer’s programme has doubled on last year in the 50 participating schools nationwide.
The programme is under way in targeted areas – it’s growing the good in areas where children will most benefit from this opportunity. The Wright Family Foundation is this year sponsoring the Manaiakalani cluster in the Glen Innes/Tamaki region of Auckland and the Kootuitui ki Papakura cluster in South Auckland.
It’s fantastic to see local libraries getting on board with summer learning programmes too. Tauranga Library has The Amazing Read – where participants aged 5-10 years old read library books over summer, go to the library to tell staff about their books, and receive small prizes for their efforts. It’s a great way to maintain reading levels over summer and it’s a lot of fun—there’s even a finale party. There are also programmes for teens and tweens.
Because as well as days at the beach, etched into my favourite summer memories are afternoons spent in a shady spot devouring a book. I like the thought that my daughter – and kids around New Zealand will make similar memories this summer, loving a good book and readying themselves for the school year ahead.
A natural storyteller through both traditional and digital mediums, Ellen embraces her clients’ objectives and aims to assume their unique “voices” in communications. Among her proudest achievements are the long-term relationships she has built with clients, including some she has worked with since their inceptions, particularly with in the healthcare, not-for-profit and property development spheres.