[RADIO] Interview with Chris Smith on Summer Learning

“What happens after school and during the summer months — that time that is not programmed for kids — really matters. And they present great opportunities to help students gain the life skills and life experiences that will help them succeed, not just in school but for the rest of their lives.” – Chris Smith

On March 24, BASB’s Executive Director Chris Smith joined Jaclyn Cashman and Hillary Chabot of Morning Meeting on Boston Herald Radio to discuss the importance of summer learning. Increasingly research shows that what happens outside of the school walls may matter as much as what happens inside the school walls.

A recent national study conducted by the Wallace Foundation and RAND found that youth who participate in rigorous summer learning programs see a meaningful advantage in math, a leg up when they go back to school in the fall — as compared to students who did not participate.

Highlights from the Interview

“Our summer learning work started in 2010, in a handful of schools with just 232 kids. There is a phenomenon called summer learning loss: kids who don’t do something during the summer actually regress and lose some of what they have learned during the previous school year. And that effect is cumulative over the years. So a group of schools and nonprofits got together and said, let’s apply what we do to the students that need it most. And this idea has really taken off.”

“The Summer Learning Community now gets over 2,000 kids out learning in new environments, places where they would otherwise not be. They’re out on Thompson Island, Hale Reservation, college campuses, workplaces, sailing out on the harbor — so they are doing really incredible activities that are tied to their learning and enrichment.”

To help connect youth with these vital summer opportunities, Smith suggests that adults can take the following steps:

  • Check in with your child’s school to see what kind of summer programs available.
  • Connect teenagers to the Mayor’s Summer Jobs program to sign up for summer employment opportunities.
  • Visit Boston Navigator – a database of over 1,000 programs that are searchable my neighborhood, cost, and area of focus.

“These programs are about more than just keeping kids busy. There is intrinsic value in learning music and sports; they are good in their own right. But what research is showing us is that these opportunities are also important to succeeding in school, so it becomes even more of a priority to get more kids involved in these programs.”