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Opinions Mon, 28 Jul 2014

Summer programs help keep your child ‘out of trouble’!

By Joe Kingsley Eyiah, OCT, Brookview Middle School, Toronto-Canada

Our children… spend over a month less in school than children in South Korea—every year. That’s no way to prepare them for a 21st century economy. That’s why I’m calling for us not only to extend effective after-school programs, but to rethink the school day to incorporate more time–-whether during the summer or through expanded-day programs for children who need it.” -- President Barack Obama

As a parent and an educationist, I personally take the US President Obama’s advocacy for summer programs for school children serious. For summer program while developing your child for his/her next level of the education ladder, also helps your child stay out of trouble during the summer break! It is said that, ‘Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.’ It is noted that youth crime/violence rises in many countries during the summer time. Many students/youth during the summer holidays/long vacation are not gainfully engaged. They become idle and therefore engage themselves in all kinds of vices detrimental to their academic as well as social development.

June every year is graduation month for most students at the Elementary, High School and College levels. The following month often sees some students including elementary and high school graduates going back to school with other students. Such school is called SUMMER SCHOOL. Those who do not participate in summer school per se, have other SUMMER PROGRAMS such as camps which also promote learning for children. Before I come back to the topic of summer programs, focusing on one I find very effective for the youth in the Jane/Finch area of Toronto (there are many other similar summer programs elsewhere), let me use this opportunity to congratulate all students, especially Ghanaian-Canadian students and Ghanaians everywhere who have successfully graduated from elementary, high schools, colleges and universities during the 2013/2014 school year. We are proud of your academic achievements!

Make Learning Stick:

One cannot dispute the opening quoted statement attributed to President Obama, for, a recent research in the US reported in ASCD Whole Child recent newsletter says, “More than half of the achievement gap present in 9th grade between lower- and higher-income children can be explained by summer learning loss. “Of the parents whose children did not participate in summer learning programs, 56 percent (an estimated 24 million children) are interested in enrolling their children in a summer learning program in the future. Parents overwhelmingly (83 percent) favor public funding for programs that provide summer learning opportunities.” And that, “While many of us envision summer vacation as a time for family trips, going to camp, and other fun and enriching activities, many parents lack the time, financial resources, and accessibility to activities that ensure their children are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged throughout the summer.” The question now is: What is your child doing this summer break?

Success Beyond Limits (Empowered to Empower):

‘Success Beyond Limits’ is for youth in the Jane/Finch community of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Canada. Their unique and innovative model has proven to be an effective approach for supporting young people’s success in education.

They have a team of dedicated and skilled staff, youth mentors and; with the support of some key community partners, they are able to deliver year-round program. Of paramount importance to my discourse here is the summer program they run every year. In the summer, they offer a 6-week program for students entering Grade 9 at Westview Centennial Secondary School. This program is open to students finishing Grade 8 at Brookview Middle School and Oakdale Park Middle School. Their program provides Grade 8 students with all the new experiences of High School-academic and social and; a student can even earn during the program, a full Grade 9 credit for High School before getting there!

There are many other summer programs in your locality that you can enroll your child in. Such opportunity may even turn your child’s life around.

A youth activist in Toronto, Kwaku Wireko-Boateng writing on the topic, ‘Don’t Give Up On Our Youth’, cites an example of the well known American Civil Rights Leader-Malcolm X that, “Malcolm was a lowly Harlem street hustler who turned his life around completely to become one of the greatest civil rights leaders in history. And his critical moment of change occurred while in prison.” I couldn’t agree with Kwaku the more! And would like to point out further that there were programs at the prison where young Malcom stayed for him to take opportunity of to turn his life around for good!

A summer program for your child ensures that your child "stays out of trouble" during the summer months. Parents who are working also like summer studies programs that ease worries about their kids and can cut down on childcare expenses. The real benefit is to the student, of course, who keep his or her mind well exercised and sharp and learns all year. Get a summer program for your child!

Columnist: Eyiah, Joseph Kingsley