Summer Reading Program
Readers and Writers Challenge Camp
During the month of June, SPAR is partnering with the Title 1 Family and Community Engagement Department (FACE) of Caddo Parish Public Schools to deliver a free, fun, and productive summer reading camp. The goal is to involve children, parents, and community volunteers in a summer reading and writing program under the guidance of certified teachers and qualified paraprofessionals.
Emilie Buchwald—a poet and award-winning children’s author—once said, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents”. Parents and community leaders are asked to volunteer their time by reading to children, in order to encourage reading as a daily activity. The camp is also intended to prevent the loss of knowledge during the summer months, and enhance children’s summer learning experiences.
Bridging the Gap
What is “summer slide”? Summer slide—also known as “summer setback” or “summer learning loss”—is a phenomenon where children tend to lose the knowledge or progress they’ve gained in school while out for the summer. According to the National Summer Learning Association, summer slide can leave some students two-and-a-half to three years behind their peers in terms of education. The Readers and Writers Challenge Camp is designed to help prevent such an occurrence.
When the Readers and Writers Challenge Camp first came to Shreveport six years ago, it started out in an apartment complex. Teachers and paraprofessionals worked with local children to help enhance their reading and writing skills as a way to encourage continued learning in the summer months. Teachers also worked with students to enhance these skills: comprehension, vocabulary, editing, revising, oral presentations, language skills, conversational skills, spelling, fluency, and phonological awareness. Additionally, the students were involved in music, art, and hands-on activities so that by the end of the program, kids would feel confident and better prepared for the upcoming school year.
The Readers and Writers Challenge Camp has now blossomed into a fully-fledged community event, thanks in part to Caddo Parish Schools’ partnership with SPAR. The collaboration with SPAR started in 2015, with the use of two SPAR facilities. Now the camp takes place at six, SPAR-sponsored recreation centers throughout the area. As of 2018, nearly 200 children are enrolled, and countless community volunteers and parents also help bring the camp to life. This year’s theme is centered on popular children’s book character, Pete the Cat. He’s a groovy blue cat that always “keeps his cool”.
During a closing ceremony at the end of this year’s program, the students will be awarded with Pete the Cat themed goodies, and Scholastic books to keep for their personal libraries.
A teacher told SPAR the story of one child enrolled in the program. “The grandmother was raising five grandchildren,” she said, “and this one child was falling behind.” The family couldn’t afford a tutor, but with school right around the corner, they realized it was crucial for their child to develop strong reading skills. By the end of the program—just one month—the child went from not being able to read, to reading at a 2nd grade level. “He read the entire book back to me,” the teacher gushed.
Hopefully, through the Readers and Writers Challenge Camp, success stories like this can continue to be created every summer.