2018-05-17 / Editorial

Read, make, play A summer of learning at McArthur Public Library

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Deanna Gouzie McNamara

According to studies, students who do not engage in learning activities over the summer lose academic ground – between one and three months of learning. This is commonly referred to as “the summer slide.” To be successful, kids and teens need ongoing opportunities to read, learn and practice skills garnered during the school year throughout summer vacation. Summer programs, like the one McArthur Library offers, have a significant positive effect and help kids avoid the summer slide.

Our focus in the past has always been on reading, a logical choice for a public library. We have so much more to than books to offer though, so last summer we decided to re-brand our “reading” program to include all forms of learning. The Summer Learning Program was born. We developed a program which now expands to include STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) programming, writing workshops, family events and other opportunities for enrichment. All learning counts with McArthur’s Read, Make, Play Summer Learning Program. Kids and teens can still participate in an incentive based program and earn prizes; however, in addition to reading they can now choose other hands-on activities such as writing a poem, following a recipe, attending a library program and more. Our hope is to engage more participants by adding more diverse learning opportunities during a time of high risk for loss of learning.

In addition to making the program more accessible to a variety of learning styles, we are also attempting to eliminate barriers to participation by making signing up and checking in for prizes easier. For the first time this year students will receive all the materials needed to participate at school in their Thursday folders. With more choices available, participants can structure the program to suit their needs. If they are unable to get to the library, for example, they would not be excluded from participating. Students can track their progress throughout summer and then will be given the opportunity to check-in and collect their prizes at school next fall.

By providing a more flexible learning experience we hope to attract more kids and teens and help them bridge the summer gap.

Summer Learning kicks off at McArthur Public Library on Wednesday, June 27 with a barbecue and concert that features Rob Duquette.

Deanna Gouzie McNamara is children’s librarian at McArthur Public Library in Biddeford.

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