Summer learning has kicked off at Tuscaloosa City Schools with more than 3,000 K-12 students enrolled.
Eighteen TCS schools are hosting programs this summer to combat the summer slide–or the loss of academic skills over the summer break. Students can lose nearly 40 percent of their learning over summer break and teachers must re-teach previous content. But, TCS students who participated in summer learning in 2018, experienced nine times less summer learning loss in reading and 20 times less summer learning loss in math than their peers who did not attend, said Dr. Andrew Maxey, Director of Strategic Initiatives at TCS.
“Kids love it and parents want their children to be a part of it. If the children are safe and happy and the parents are confident in that, that has a ripple effect,” Maxey said. “I believe that summer learning is a great gift for Tuscaloosa and the evidence suggests that Tuscaloosa feels that way too.”
TCS summer learning is a voluntary program with full-day programming combining enriched academics, academically-enhanced enrichment activities and small class sizes. The TCS programs, which include meals, are also free, with no cost to families.
“Summer learning is beneficial for kids because it helps them grow their brain and be motivated throughout the summer,” Amber Emerson, the director of summer learning at Northridge Middle School, said.
While summer learning programs decrease academic loss, they also combine the school year's rigor with summer's excitement. Students are scheduled to go on several field trips, including to the Georgia Aquarium, The Space and Rocket Center, The McWane Center, and others.
“I like science, math, reading, and PE to help learn and keep your mind fresh,” Alan Zheng, a student at Verner Elementary, said.
Each elementary and middle school participating has a different theme to its program, including Adventures Under the Sea, and STEAM-tastic Summer.
For Victoria Colvin, a student at The Alberta School of Performing Arts (TASPA), her favorite activity of her STEAM-tastic Summer was learning about the sun.
“We talked about the sun in class. The sun gives us energy!” Colvin said.
Her class studied how objects melted under the sun, including ice, chocolate, and pencils. They drew photos of the sun and discussed its functions.
Summer learning also provides mental health support for students. Students having a routine, discussing their feeling and relating their zones of regulation all have positive effects on students, Maxey said.
High school summer learners have the option of credit advancement, credit recovery, or participating in job apprenticeships or internships.
Summer learning will end on June 30 and the 2023-2024 school year will begin on Aug. 9.