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Summer school with no walls keeps kids engaged, active

  • summer school
    Emily Cohen for NewsWorks




The mention of summer school might conjure images of students stuck inside on beautiful days and kids upset at their parents for forcing them to attend.

But there's a summer program that's the opposite of that — and it's outdoors.

Families are already at the community pool, splashing and squealing in the water before 9 a.m.

Outside the fence, 6- and 7-year-olds stand in a circle, playing a rhyming game outside a picnic pavilion at the Boyertown Community Park in Berks County.

"Listen to the sounds. Hat, cat. So, if you hear them rhyme like that, you go down and back up," said instructor Pam Gebbie.

Although the 10 youngsters are outside among the trees, they're not at camp — they're students at a summer reading program.

Called Teachers in the Parks, it focuses on preventing the "summer slide."

"The summer slide is a well-researched phenomenon where children lose roughly seven weeks every summer," said Matt Hathaway, founder of the program. "So it takes them until about October, November to get back to the levels they were in June. And, if we can stop the summer slide, we can actually add about 25 percent of instruction."

The 4th-grade teacher in Exeter Township School District started the program 13 years ago with six students.

It served more than 450 kids in kindergarten through 6th grade in Berks County this summer.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks


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