Programs seek to keep reading momentum going

    The 2013-2014 school year has ended, but that doesn’t mean that a teacher’s hard work should plunge south for the summer.      

    The “Summer Slide,” a phrase coined to describe students’ losses in academic skills during the summer, has typically meant that students’ assessment scores at the end of a school year show a drop when they’re retested at the start up of the next school year.  A three-month summer break can have a negative impact on students’ scores if students are not vigilant in practicing the skills learned during the previous school year.   

    The Crookston and Fertile Library (LARL) has welcomed RSVP Reading Buddy volunteers to enhance their summer reading program, “Paws to Read…” both of which are efforts to combat the summer slide. RSVP Reading Buddies have been a regular presence with Washington Elementary for several years, and for part of this past school year in Fertile.  Volunteers encourage young, struggling readers to grow their literacy skills by listening to children read aloud, incorporating reading prompts and facilitating discussion and comprehension.   

    According to Scholastic FACE (Family and Community Engagement),  Expanded learning opportunities, including after-school, before-school, summer school, and Saturday programs offer more opportunities to keep students on task. High-quality expanded learning opportunities have been shown to correlate with student gains in academic achievement, school engagement, and social and emotional development.  Having access to books over the summer months reinforces good learning habits and is critical to maintaining a child's achievement level.   

    Proposed federal budget cuts, in the form of losing 2/3 of RSVP’s funding, prompted RSVP Program Director Tammy Sykes to put her efforts into building a highly competitive RSVP Program, heavily aligning services with the Nation’s Strategic Priorities and Focus Areas, one of which is Education.  Expanding an educational-based program such as Reading Buddies into community libraries, made perfect sense as the volunteer force and library partnerships already exist.   

    Using United Way Grant funds, RSVP purchased a variety of Level Reading books for use during the summer literacy project. Children interested in reading aloud to a Reading Buddy Volunteer this summer, may visit the library during the following times:   

    • Tues., Wed., and Fri. 10 a.m. to noon at the Crookston Public Library.   

    Programming began June 3, and will run until the end of August.  An end of summer campfire celebration will be hosted, for all participating volunteers and children, on the University of MN Crookston Campus, complete with S’mores and of course… a story.   

    RSVP is sponsored and housed at the University of MN Crookston.   RSVP is the largest volunteer network for Americans, aged 55 and older.  Serving and strengthening families and communities, RSVP of the Red River Valley offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, addressing critical community needs.   To volunteer, contact RSVP: 281-8289.