Building Better Programs: 6 Key Ingredients of an Effective Summer Learning Program
By Arly Communications on January 3, 2022
Summer learning programs can change lives. They can help support learning recovery, foster the development of social and emotional skills, create an environment where kids feel safer tackling more challenging concepts, and strengthen a growth mindset. These programs can open opportunities to thrive, not just for individual students but for the teachers as well.
A recent study published in the American Educational Research Journal suggests that students lose 17-34 percent of educational gains during the summer when they’re not in school. This learning loss is an important piece of the educational inequity puzzle, hitting historically marginalized communities hardest.
Keep the following tactics in mind as you construct your summer learning or enrichment program to help ensure you provide a high-quality experience for your participants.
6 Keys to an Impactful Summer Learning Program
A thoughtful, proactive approach bolsters the value of any program. A RAND Corporation study found that these tactics ensure an effective program that achieves its objectives:
- Conduct early, robust planning. Start planning summer learning programs in the fall. Draw upon data from the summer program that just ended to identify easy changes. Then devise a plan for bigger changes that require more work, approval, and collaboration to build out your planning calendar.
- Hire good people—then make them great. Invest in your team with a strong onboarding program, a positive culture, ongoing leadership support, and professional learning, tools, and resources.
- Monitor recruitment and attendance. Students can only benefit from a program they attend. Daily attendance data provides compelling information about how well your program is serving students.
- Offer engaging and fun enrichment. Quality programs foster a love of learning and a curious disposition by making education fun. Field trips, games, and other meaningful enrichment opportunities make students want to keep coming back.
- Nurture a unique, positive climate. Students should feel safe and valued in your program. Consider what you can do to foster a positive program culture and address any challenges students are likely to encounter both in the program and at home.
- Build an efficient program. Look for efficiencies that streamline program management and give you time to do what matters most for your target population. This might mean offering instruction in a limited number of buildings, moving some classes outside, or cultivating other strategies to reduce overhead while offering the greatest possible value.
An inclusive learning environment ensures that all students can engage meaningfully in every activity and lesson. This means that an educator must prepare for and respond to their scholars’ differences to ensure that everyone has the access, support, and resources they need to be successful.
Improving social and emotional learning, academic performance, and school attendance can set children up for a lifetime of educational success. Strong programs are able to demonstrate their impact with compelling data. The right educational technology can also measure youth and family satisfaction to keep attendees coming back for more.
Monitoring Progress over Time
Strong programs are engaged in a continuous improvement process that builds upon past successes and learns from missed opportunities. To truly understand where you’re succeeding and where you need to make some shifts, you need the right data. Here again, educational technology is a powerful ally.
Build a Stronger Summer Learning Program
BellXcel is on a mission to ensure every student has access to exceptional programs that optimize their potential while making learning fun and meaningful. We leverage nearly three decades of experience in this space to innovate solutions for youth organizations and schools. Our evidence-based platform pairs proven business practices and strong youth programming solutions to drive high-quality outcomes, scale, and revenue. Arly by BellXcel is purpose-built for the youth sector—customers have all the ingredients needed to manage their youth programming in one easy-to-use platform.
To learn more about building a stronger program, check out our free webinar, “Let’s Start Planning for Summer!”