It is no secret that kids have suffered alarming drops in reading skills during the pandemic. Experts say that the limitations of remote learning have exacerbated existing literacy teaching issues. According to the New York Post, “overall K-2 Fall 2021 scores indicate the highest percentage of students scoring below benchmark at grade-level entry ever observed at the fall assessment.”
This year, some of our students who were identified as struggling readers in our elementary program were invited to join us on campus for a two-week intensive-reading camp. Our struggling readers were identified by their grades in reading and comprehension as well as overall reading levels. Some of the students had fallen a year behind their peers. Thirty-nine students from 1st – 5th grades attended. they came from Monday to Friday every day and dedicated an hour to extra reading help.
Our academic team identified a need for additional support and with the help of our reading specialist Lou D’Amico, acted quickly to develop the camp to coincide with the time between the end of the school year and the start of summer programming.
During the camp, students worked in groups by ability and reading levels. The camp included reading instruction, vocabulary, contractions, and comprehension. Groups of four students worked with certified teachers to catch up in areas they fell behind. Our younger students focused on phonics and sounds, while our older students focused on vocabulary and reading comprehension.
Our teachers made the activities and lesson plans engaging by creating games to make learning fun. Transportation, meals and snacks were included.
“I started with Grace Place in 2014 as a volunteer in the Bright Beginnings program. I have seen how the students that have been with us since the beginning of our program are some of our strongest students academically. You can see the impact that Grace Place has on our students the longer they are enrolled and active in the program.” – Lou D’Amico, retired CCPS teacher and CCPS reading specialist, current reading specialist for our elementary after-school program.
It is critical, especially seeing the grade levels of students throughout the nation scoring below the benchmark, that we keep our students academically engaged in the summer.
For many families in the Golden Gate City community, the cost of a private tutor for their child or having them go through a specialized reading program is something they simply could not afford.
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