This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Education experts have long advocated for parents to keep their kids engaged in learning over the summer – when skills picked up during the school year can get rusty.
That "summer slide" can be especially tough on students from families who can’t afford high-quality summer programs. To combat this loss, State Sen. Vincent Hughes has organized the Save Our Skills summer reading program – a free, four-week literacy program where students receive a free breakfast and lunch while sharpening their skills with certified teachers.
Program sponsors include the Philadelphia Eagles, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Children’s Literacy Group, Treehouse Books, and the Philadelphia School District.
"Research shows that children fall behind during the summer months when they’re not engaged. So programs like this are part of the solution," said Raymond Jackson, a 4th-grade literacy teacher in the program who usually teaches 7th-grade reading at Birney Preparatory Academy Charter School.
"If we constantly push students to push themselves, you’ll see a big difference the upcoming school year," he said.
Save Our Skills teachers are counted as volunteers, but receive a $1,000 stipend after completing the four-week program.