It’s an important education initiative in Ontario. Since 2010, the Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE), backed with funding and support from the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, has coordinated the organization of Summer Learning Programs in boards across the province.
The aim of the Summer Learning Program is to minimize summer learning loss and increase confidence by supporting students in the primary and junior grades who would benefit from engaging and interactive classes in literacy, numeracy, or literacy support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI). The SLP also identifies promising practices, and connected boards to an in-depth research study that examined the impact of summer learning. As an extension to this research study (concluded in 2013), six English-language and three French-language boards have continued participating in a longitudinal research study that examines whether the impact of summer learning programs continues over time.
The research findings to date clearly indicate that summer literacy and numeracy programs do make a difference by minimizing summer learning loss while increasing student confidence. As an example, pre- and post-test scores in reading show that students enrolled in literacy classes made average gains in reading of approximately five weeks in instruction time. Students enrolled in literacy/numeracy blended classes made similar gains in reading as well as average gains in mathematics of approximately seven weeks in instruction time.
Boards may invite any students currently registered in senior kindergarten, grades 1, 2, 3, 4 and/or 5 to participate in the program. It is suggested that preference be given to students experiencing achievement gaps and/or those who may have social and economic challenges to school achievement.
The involvement of parents is critical to the success of the Summer Learning Programs. Boards are asked to communicate and engage with parents of SLP students throughout the program, and ensure they understand the purpose, expected student outcomes and logistics of the program. Parents are required to complete a survey and commit to regular attendance of their child(ren). In addition, most programs invite parents into the classroom to participate in activities, and learn how to continue supporting their child’s learning at home.
For the first time since the SLP began, all 72 school boards and two school authorities in Ontario are offering summer learning programs.
Boards organize programs with no fewer than 15 students per class. The SLP must be offered for a minimum of 3 weeks with interactive and engaging literacy or numeracy instruction scheduled daily for at least a half day or the equivalent of 45 hours of literacy or numeracy instruction.
The SLP is expected to include a recreation component, and boards may enter into community partnerships with local not-for-profit agencies or organizations (e.g., YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, local museums). Engaging the community is an excellent way to enrich and support academic learning by integrating healthy lifestyles, drama, music and the arts into summer learning.
To learn more about summer learning, please see SLP reports from previous years.