According to national statistics, each summer an estimated 43 million children in the U.S. miss out on expanded learning opportunities that could prevent them from falling behind. Most youth lose about two months worth of math skills. Lower income youth also lose more than two months worth of reading skills, while their middle class peers make slight gains.
Here at the Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri, we are committed to ensuring that our members, especially those who need us most, graduate from high school on time with a plan for the future. To help us with that goal the Club participates in Summer Brain Gain, a learning loss prevention program developed especially for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Comprised of one-week modules with fun, themed activities for elementary, middle and high school students, Brain Gain takes a project-based learning approach: youth engage in a process of learning through discovery, creative expression, group work and a final project or production.
As a result, members develop higher-order thinking skills while staying on track for the coming school year.
“The idea is to incorporate educational activities in fun ways,” said Stoney Hays, Club Director of Operations.
For example, Hays said, in the Computer and Skills Lab Program, members play educational computer games, one in particular is “Asteroids.” In order to blow up a falling asteroid before it reaches the bottom of the screen, players must type in a word written on the asteroid, reinforcing spelling and keyboarding skills.
Another activity within the Brain Gain program is “Flat Stanley,” which incorporates reading skills, knowledge about other communities and history. After reading the “Flat Stanley” books, Kinder Camp members create their own Stanleys, similar to paper dolls, to send to Clubs around the country.
Many of the summer programs are within the Brain Gain program including Adventures in Science, Computer and Skills Lab, E-Lab, Energy In/Out and Music/Fine Arts.
Smithton Site Manager Judy Moore teaches the Mo’Art Program which introduces members to a different artist each day and educates them about their style of art. Once members learn about the artistic technique, they create their own artwork in that style.
“Not only is it [the art program] a continuation of what they are offered in school, it is a multiplication of what they learn in school. It is impossible for them to step back,” said Judy Moore, Smithton Site Manager.
At school, members may have an hour in Art class but at the Boys & Girls Club members have time to immerse themselves in not only Art, but in numerous subjects.
“(Brain Gain) ensures that our members don’t have that summer slide and reinforces what they’ve learned in school,” Hays said. “The Club is fun, but with a purpose.” –Photos courtesy Boys & Girls Club