Introductory Remarks for Anytime, Anywhere Summer Learning
by Michael H. Levine, Ph.D.
June 10, 2014
First, what can we do across sectors to recognize a tremendous drain on our children’s capacity to learn? The fact is that for far too many kids, summer time is part of a profoundly disturbing cycle—millions of preschoolers and elementary school children have precious few opportunities to engage in enriching activities that so many of their higher income peers experience as a matter of course. These kids suffer from limited access to academically or socially valuable experiences within communities that are often distressed with high unemployment, shortened hours of public utilities like libraries, and a paucity of safe outdoor activities that nourish children’s minds, bodies, and souls. And many of the academic “summer school” programs that do exist are often focused on remedial work with limited value.
Second, can we mobilize parents—especially those who are deeply connected to their kids, but who have limited resources and education to do more? We need to reach more vulnerable parents to encourage them to offer their kids a daily dose of proven interactions to intentionally build oral language abilities, to connect them to reading and storytelling experiences at home as well as by to take advantage of fun activities in their libraries, museums, schools, and community centers.
Third, can we help break the summer slide with those community programs that are modernizing their approaches—finding cool ways to get kids and families focused on reading. Today you will hear from some great state-based and community efforts that may be ready to scale.
And fourth, how can we harness technology and well-designed educational media more effectively? Given the fact that the average 3rd grader is engaged with some media platform over 7 hours a day during the school year, according to the Kaiser family foundation—and presumably even longer hours during the summer—what will it take to encourage a new media “food” pyramid? Can we find a way to balance the many tech calories that teach children the skills of communicating with friends on Facebook or playing video games throughout the day, with new habits that certainly encourage two of the old R’s—reading and writing with three new essential 21st century skills—creating, communicating and coding? For the entire blog post, please visit: http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/2014/06/10/introductory-remarks-for-anytime-anywhere-summer-learning/