YMCA program aims to reduce summer learning loss

PELHAM – This summer, Pelham City Schools students who are struggling in the areas of reading and math are getting a little extra help thanks to the S.A.I.L. program being offered by the YMCA.

Jason Beasley, YMCA executive director, said the six-week program is for upcoming third through sixth graders who need a little extra help. The program began June 4 and will end July 20.

Each weekday, the students are engaged in classroom instructional time at Pelham Oaks Elementary from 9 a.m. to noon. After that, they go back to the YMCA to enjoy fun day camp activities.

This year, roughly 20 children are participating in the program. The curriculum and teachers for the program are provided by Better Basics, a nonprofit focused on empowering children by reducing illiteracy. The YMCA was awarded a grant to help fund the program.

The activities and teaching techniques are proven to stop the summer slide, which is the loss of academic skills and knowledge over the course of summer break. This is the first summer that Pelham has had a S.A.I.L. program solely for PCS students.

“Our goal is to help the bottom 5 percent who are struggling in school,” Beasley said.

Beasley said as much as one to two months of learned math and reading skills are lost over the summer break.

“They’re not using what they’ve already learned so they’re almost having to do remedial work when the school year starts back,” he said. “The goal is to help kids already struggling so they won’t be even further behind.”

If a child attends the YMCA afterschool program and the summer day camp, that child will end up spending almost the same amount of time at the YMCA as he or she does at school.

“There’s a sense of responsibility that comes along with that,” Beasley said. “We really feel that we should be a part of the educational process and help reduce summer learning loss.”

Because the cost of the program is offset by the grant, parents pay $50 per week for their child to participate in the program.