By Kathryn Vargas
Long warm nights, the opening of the neighborhood pool, the buzz of students making plans to see each other during the long break. All familiar signs of summer. This is also the time when parents and caregivers are confronted with the question: What will the kids do to stay active during the summer?
This question is an important one.
Research indicates that it is critical for kids of all ages to stay actively engaged in learning in order to avoid summer slide, a term used to describe the potential for children, especially low-income children, to fall behind academically during the summer months. For example:
- According to the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), students lose an average of two months of math skills and up to three months of reading skills if not actively engaged in learning over the summer.
- Additionally, the National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment states that three to four consecutive summers of high-quality learning beginning in pre-Kindergarten can get kids reading on grade level by third grade, making them four times more likely to graduate from high school.
Luckily, Pittsburgh is home to a rich network of cultural institutions and youth-serving organizations offering a diverse array of summer learning opportunities. Many organizations that provide afterschool care will transition into full-day summer care.
For families who may find it difficult to pay for summer care, there are free and low-cost options available. In some cases, school districts offer a summer learning option, such as Pittsburgh Public School’s Summer Dreamers Academy. And there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of family-friendly events, like Carnegie Library’s Summer Reading Extravaganza, sprinkled throughout the season.
There is a one-stop spot to make it easy to find these fun opportunities: Pittsburgh’s Summer19 campaign is a collaborative effort that brings government and the community together to uplift summer learning experiences. Click here to access lots of terrific opportunities. A few highlights:
- Kidsburgh events calendar,
- APOST Program Finder,
- Citiparks summer guide, including Citiparks Roving Art Cart,
- Programs at Allegheny County Parks.
- Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s Summer Foods locations,
- and information about the Learn & Earn summer work program.
The Summer19 site also features a blog that will be regularly updated with various learning opportunities throughout the summer months. It is a great place to start planning with our Pittsburgh summer bucket list.
Kathryn Vargas is the director of Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST), which works toward the healthy and successful development of kids through school and into adulthood.