YMCA of Columbia to Offer Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program to Boost Children’s Reading Skills

This summer, the YMCA of Columbia will offer a learning loss prevention program for children entering first and second grade who are most at risk of falling behind in their reading skills over the summer.

The Summer Learning Loss Prevention pilot program, a national initiative with the YMCA, will strive to help children read at grade level by the third grade – a key educational milestone that is important to children’s ongoing knowledge retention and academic performance.

“During summer months, many youth are not as engaged in learning and reading activities as they would be while in school,” said Doug Berkel, Vice President of Youth Development for the YMCA of Columbia. “The Y’s Summer Learning program will help ensure children stay on track over the summer and read at or above grade level when the new school year begins.”

Studies show that without access to summer learning activities such as camp, travel and visits to libraries and museums, children from low-income environments can experience more significant learning loss than their more economically-stable peers. Over time, these children continue to lose ground and by the fifth grade, many are two to three school years behind their middle- and high-income peers.

The Summer Learning program is modeled after the YMCA of Greater Charlotte’s Y Readers program, designed for children in first and second grade reading below grade level. The YMCA of Columbia’s summer program will be held four days per week for six weeks. Mornings will be dedicated to literacy work, while afternoons are filled with enrichment activities that include art, music, science, and physical activity. In addition, there will be parent workshops designed to encourage reading at home. The Y will work with Richland School District Two to identify students who would benefit from the summer learning loss prevention program.

Nationally, the Y worked with nearly 1,000 children through the Summer Learning Loss Prevention pilot program last summer. Initial results show strong gains in reading skills; on average, children gained 2.4 months of reading skills in six short weeks. In addition:

  • Nearly all parents/caregivers (98 percent) reported that their child was “more excited to learn” and showed “increased self-confidence.”
  • 7 percent families believed the program would help their child do better in school;
  • 98 percent reported that the program helped their family read more books; and
  • 97 percent said it helped them get more engaged in their child’s education.

The Y is committed to nurturing the potential of every child and teen and is addressing the academic achievement gap through pilot programs on afterschool, early learning readiness and summer learning loss prevention. The programs, which are underway in nearly 46 states across the country, are designed to not only increase success in school, but to also foster social-emotional development and physical health and well-being. As part of the national initiative, YMCA of Columbia is one of 49 Ys selected to pilot the Summer Learning Loss Prevention program.

About the YMCA of Columbia

Over the past century and a half, the YMCA of Columbia has been a community-transforming institution, not only in the Midlands, but in the entire United States. The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Regardless of age, income or background – the Y works to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. The Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. Please visit www.columbiaymca.org for more information.