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Boys & Girls Clubs plan learning activities for summer
Kids can drop everything and read for an hour every day
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Jayro Reyes, 10, paints his wooden stick purple as he prepares to construct a whirligig in art class.

Children spend most of the year dreaming about summer vacation.

When that final school bell rings, the last thing on children’s minds is whether or not they’ll be on grade level next year.

But studies show that kids very likely won’t start the next year where they left off.

According to a report by the Afterschool Alliance, students who spend the summer without structured activities can lose a month or more of accumulated knowledge. Low-income children can be at an even greater risk of losing what they’ve learned mainly because they lack the resources to take part in summer camps and trips.

“While the months without daily lessons are part of the problem, another contributing factor is (that) many young people are left alone for much of the summer with little or no supervision to intellectually challenge them and constructively exercise their energies. It’s critical to find creative ways to combat learning loss,” Steven Mickens, chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County, said in a press release.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County have a summer full of creative learning activities planned for members to help prevent “summer brain drain.”

“We’re trying to help bridge last school year to the next school year,” said Mark Mendoza, Joseph F. Walters Club unit director, “We’re trying to prevent children from going home and not having any other stimulation other than video games and TV.”

Thanks to a federally funded state grant called the 21st Century grant, the clubs are able to offer the children some exciting opportunities.

In addition to traditional tutoring by certified teachers, the kids are able to take lessons from a kung fu champion and visit some of the biggest attractions in the Atlanta area like the zoo and the Georgia Aquarium.

Every week the children focus on a different lesson and take a field trip that corresponds with it.

This week the children are learning about art. They visited the folk art exhibit at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville on Monday.

Taking inspiration from the art they saw, the kids learned about symmetry while they decorated clay plates with beads and shells.

Marsha Richter, artist and art teacher at the club, used a lesson plan she made for the state to teach the children about mirror images on Tuesday.

“This lesson plan and most of the lesson plans that I do incorporate more than just art. Art is a wonderful medium, very tactile and kinetic medium, to incorporate other subjects whether it’s social studies or math,” Richter said.

After a full day of learning, the kids can take a break with DEAR time. DEAR stands for “drop everything and read.”

For about an hour a day, the children can choose any place they like to read anything they like. The hope is by choosing what and where they read the kids will come to view reading as a pleasure rather than an academic demand.

Kaylee Vazquez said she became a good reader in her second-grade year. She said she’s looking forward to reading books to her 3-week-old brother when he gets older.

“I like every book. But I don’t read newspapers or magazines, only my mom does,” Kaylee said.

Another big push the clubs are making this summer is to teach third-graders how to do multiplication.

“It’s a big deal for us because a lot of the math in fourth grade is tied into multiplication,” Mendoza said.

Karina Collins, 9, is excited about starting the fourth grade next year. She said the club helps her learn her multiplication tables and it makes her feel good to show her mom what she’s learned.

“I like multiplication and division the best,” Karina said.

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