Setting up for Success

Experts say youth can lose up to three months of math and literacy skills during the summer, often referred to as the “summer slide”. This means their back-to-school performance is behind where they were earlier in the spring. This is where the Y steps in to help.

Early on in his schooling, Jonathan had trouble with reading and other subjects. That’s when his mom Britney decided to register him in the YMCA’s Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program (SLLP), an initiative that helps elementary students reading below grade level. The curriculum focuses on phonics, writing, and reading to help boost literacy skills, and incorporates enrichment activities to support physical and social-emotional growth.

Since his time in the program, Britney says her son has grown leaps and bounds. “Jonathan has really progressed, and his grades have improved. Seeing where he was at the end of the school year compared to where he was at the end of the summer after the program—it was a huge difference.” Britney says SLLP helped her son discover and develop his love for reading, and he really enjoyed the group’s weekly field trips to the local library. “You can even ask his teacher, all he does now is read,” she says with a smile. “He reads really well and it’s what he loves to do.” 

Besides improved literacy skills, Britney says she’s noticed other positive changes in her son as well. “I definitely think the program helped to improve his behavior in school; specifically, how to work within a group and listen better.” She says Jonathan is also more confident. “Every day when we got home he wanted to read to me and show off what he learned that day. He even helps his twin brother Jaiden with reading, too.” Britney believes the program’s consistency and structure helped Jonathan refocus once he returned to the classroom. “He was much more confident going into the new school year in September,” she says. “For some kids, it can be hard to get out of ‘summer mode’ once classes start again, but the program helped Jonathan make an easy transition.”

Since 2014 YMCA Buffalo Niagara has offered summer academic programming such as Summer Learning Loss Prevention to children throughout Western New York. Nationally, on average, 67% of children who take part in the Summer Learning Loss Prevention program retain or increase their literacy scores. “Over a six-week period, this program can make a positive impact on a child and set them up for success for life,” says Penny Snell, Director of Child Care Operations for YMCA Buffalo Niagara. “It provides students the academic support they need to prevent summer learning loss and helps them be successful and more confident in their schooling once they return to the classroom in September.”

Now seven years old and in second grade, Jonathan continues to do well in school. Britney says she’s grateful that such an important resource like SLLP was available to her son through the YMCA. She says, “Even though my kids are young, the Y has shaped them a lot. Without the Y, I don’t think they would be as well-rounded as they are. They love it here.”