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May 17, 2018 |
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Splash parks. Ice cream. Lightning bugs. For many people, these things mean summer fun. But along with the fun, there are also challenges: mosquitoes, humidity, and sunburn. This is true of summer learning. There are activities and resources for children to gain experiences and build background knowledge. However, there is the risk of “summer slide.” Students may lose the gains made in reading, writing, and math during the weeks away from their classrooms. NCFL Education Solutions Practitioners spend hundreds of hours during the school year planning lessons, assessing learning, and supporting students. So why not plan for summer learning? Families and caregivers are often willing to support their children over the summer, but they need help to plan for summer success. Now is the time to lay the groundwork for families and students to experience summers filled with learning.

  • Make individualized summer learning plans. Meet with families and identify areas of growth for their children. Brainstorm activities they can do at home to support learning. Ask them to name resources both within their families and their communities that can be used to encourage summer learning. These plans are time-consuming, but the investment of time allows parents and caregivers to understand the importance of summer learning.
  • Research low-cost or free events that are occurring in your neighborhood or community. Look for free days at museums, community festivals, library programs, and free concerts. Share this information with families. Help them make plans to attend community events that will build their children’s background knowledge.
  • Make Brain Boxes with families. Decorate empty tissue boxes. Create paper strips with activities for summer learning and put them inside the box. Families can pull one strip to complete each day throughout the summer. You can provide activities on pre-made strips or have parents create them. This activity is great for a family workshop, parent time, or PACT time. Some suggestions for simple summer learning activities might be:
    • Practice writing your name (or sight words) with sidewalk chalk.
    • Roll two dice. Add (or multiply) the two numbers to practice math facts.
    • Write a review for a TV show or movie that you’ve watched.
  • Set up a Camp Wonderopolis counselor’s account for yourself and help families set up Camper accounts for their children.CampW18-Logo-mash­up Camp Wonderopolis is a great tool for engaging families in summer learning. Families can read or listen to informational text, watch short videos, and discuss interesting photos on wide-range of topics. They can also gain experiences through Maker activities. This year families will explore music through a Symphony of Wonders. As a counselor, you can check students’ participation and interact with them on the Wonder Wall.
  • Make Summer Learning Toolkits for each family. Choose a container. Gather brochures about summer reading at the library, free activities at the park, or local festivals. Ask for donations of books, sidewalk chalk, dice, pencils, flower seeds, jump ropes, or other summer learning tools from local businesses or organizations. Create a simple direction sheet explaining how to use the items. By providing materials and ideas, you can remove barriers that might prevent families from engaging in summer learning activities.
Now is the time to plan activities to support summer learning. Help families understand the importance of learning throughout the summer. Provide them with tools and strategies for engaging with their children. Help them make connections with local resources. As practitioners, support your families in preparing for a summer of learning. How do you encourage summer learning with your families? Share your ideas in the comments below to help our community prepare for a summer filled with learning.  


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NCFL Partners

Toyota Family Learning Program

Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $35 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.

Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.

Read More about Toyota and NCFL

Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to reach the 35.7 million adults ages 18-64 who do not have a high school diploma by guiding them to better-paying, more stable jobs.

The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.

Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®.

Go to Dollar General Literacy Foundation's website

PNC Grow Up Great

PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.

PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994 to advance early literacy and learning resources for vulnerable families. Current efforts supported by PNC include a collaborative initiative in two at-risk Detroit communities that engages families to support vocabulary development for children under age 5.

NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.

PNC Grow Up Great

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

NCFL has partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation since January 2016. The Foundation is currently supporting a dynamic two-generation family engagement initiative that expands NCFL's Family Learning model into select Head Start programs nationwide. NCFL's model presents an innovative way to support Head Start programs in meeting outcomes aligned with the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework.

Visit the Foundation website

Better World Books

Better World Books selected NCFL as its domestic literacy partner in 2005 and has raised more than $1 million to support NCFL’s work and donated more than $15 million to support literacy and education efforts worldwide. Better World Books is a triple-bottom-line online bookstore, working equally for people, planet and profit. Each book purchased powers literacy across the world.

Better World Books’ support of NCFL has provided books and workshops to families after Hurricane Katrina, donated large book donations to literacy programs and families nationwide and fueled innovative family literacy and learning programs and resources in libraries, schools and community-based organizations. In addition to their work for literacy and education, Better World Books diverts books from landfills and offers carbon-balanced shipping.

Better World Books

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In 2013, NCFL began a partnership with the Gates Foundation to ensure that our network of students, teachers, and families thrive among recent shifts in standards-based education. NCFL will leverage the unique strengths of our award-winning Wonderopolis® platform to build upon the growing teacher network that uses the resource for core daily instruction and as a basis for professional growth.

Foundation Website

Goodling Institute

NCFL has partnered with the Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University since 2001, working collaboratively to further research, professional development, and policy efforts for family literacy and intergenerational learning.

The work of this partnership includes, but is not limited to, a strong research strand at NCFL's national annual convening, the Families Learning Summit; advocacy for family literacy and learning to further support for and inclusion of family-focused education in new and ongoing legislation; and dissemination of the latest research, resources, information, and professional development opportunities for literacy and learning practitioners and advocates, including the Certificate in Family Literacy provided by the Goodling Institute.

Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University