Summer camps focused on building reading skills

Camps are trying to prevent the summer slide experienced by some when students return to school after the break.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s a phenomenon that educators and schools worry about on the last day of school — it’s called the summer slide. 

And no, we’re not talking about a water slide at an amusement park. 

The summer slide is when students return to school after the summer break and have lost some of the knowledge that they gained the previous school year.

“Research shows that if a student doesn’t read over the summer, they could fall two months behind,” Taylor Justice, A Better World program director, said.

Behind each door at A Better World summer camp, learning is happening. 

The camp is free to students — and runs entirely on grants and donations

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“Within a three-mile radius there are eight Title I schools and two charter schools that we serve,” Justice said. 

Title I schools are provided extra resources due to high poverty in the area. Research shows these are the students suffering the most when trying to rebound from the pandemic learning loss. 

“Back in August, when the students went back to school, 70% of our students were reading three or more grade levels below,” Taylor said. “And by the end of the school year, we had an 80% growth.” 

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Students with learning disabilities are also at risk. 

The Ballantyne Reading Academy is seeing a trend. 

“Those that had some learning disabilities to start with, or dyslexia, remote learning was very much of a challenge for them,” Lorie Lewis, the owner of Ballantyne Reading Academy, said. “So they are trying to catch up.”

For campers at A Better World, the staff is working to balance learning with fun. 

“Many of them don’t even know that they’re working on academics because we have that twist and make it fun,” Justice said. 

Their top priority is getting all students back to their grade level in reading — that’s why they’re eager to put this camp in the books. 

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