NORWALK, CT – April 7, 2017 – TEAM Summer, a Norwalk ACTS initiative led by 20+ summer learning providers and dozens of Norwalk community members, is working collectively to ensure that all Norwalk children are learning, experiencing and discovering during the summer months.

To help parents find summer learning and enrichment opportunities for their children, TEAM Summer has launched an interactive, online database of summer programming that can be searched by type of program, age of child, dates offered and more.

The mission of TEAM Summer’s members is to engage more children in summer learning opportunities and experiences. In doing so, TEAM Summer aims to not only reduce summer learning loss for all of Norwalk’s children, but also to help boost student achievement and foster healthier, safer and more confident children.

“We are providing a vehicle for parents to guide their children toward a meaningful summer experience,” noted Norwalk’s First Lady, Lucia Rilling, TEAM Summer ambassador. “These experiences will help them emotionally, intellectually, socially and more. The kids are counting on us,” she added.

TEAM Summer members include A.C.H.I.E.V.E, Carver Foundation, CDI Headstart, City of Norwalk, Family & Children’s Agency, Horizons at New Canaan Country School, Kumon Math and Reading Center of Norwalk, Maritime Aquarium, Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program, Norwalk ACTS, Norwalk Grassroots Tennis and Education, Norwalk Health Department, Norwalk Housing Authority, Norwalk Public Library, Norwalk Public Schools, Norwalk Recreation and Parks, Norwalk River Rowing Association,Odyssey Early Learning and Enrichment Programs, Person-to-Person, Riverbrook Regional YMCA, Silvermine Art Center, South Norwalk Community Center and Stepping Stones Museum for Children.

It is well documented that all young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational and enrichment activities during the summer months, and according to the National Summer Learning Association, low-income students are disproportionately at risk of losing academic skills during the summer school vacation.

“We know that more than half of the achievement gap can be attributed to unequal access to summer opportunities,” says Anthony Allison, Executive Director of Norwalk ACTS.  “A significant part of our work as a team is focused on engaging those children who are not benefiting from some type of summer opportunity and on building a better system in Norwalk to provide opportunity and experience for all.”

Norwalk ACTS identified summer as one of the key time periods to improve academic, social/emotional and health/wellness outcomes for children. TEAM Summer is developing a community-wide, collective action plan and believes that intentional and holistic efforts to engage children during the summer can lead to greater success during the school year .

The Norwalk Public Schools (NPS) also speaks to summer learning as a top priority in its three-year strategic operating plan.

“It is our dream, our goal, our vision, that all Norwalk children have access to summer learning opportunities and that we are effective in reducing the achievement gap,” stated Dr. Steven Adamowski, NPS Superintendent. “Our vision is that Norwalk becomes the most successful school district in the state, and with this initiative, we are well on our way.”

According to a TEAM Summer landscape scan, there are close to 14,000 children ages 3-18 in Norwalk, all of which could benefit from a summer learning experience. However, last summer  only about 3,500 children engaged in some type of summer programming.

One of TEAM Summer’s goals is to leverage the city’s many assets and build capacity over time to engage more children, better.

In the meantime, parents, family members and caregivers can play an important role in keeping children engaged and learning throughout the summer months.

Visit the library and encourage children to participate in summer reading programs with weekly activities and incentives.

Encourage children to keep journals of their summer activities or to write stories. Have them draw pictures to illustrate their stories or journals.

Math may seem like a tougher subject to review over the summer, but math skills are used by everyone in daily life. Parents can help younger children review basic math concepts like counting, addition and subtraction during typical daily activities. Older children can help parents pay for items and count the change at the grocery store, or assist with the family’s banking.

Take educational trips to parks, a zoo or a museum. Many museum websites have online exhibits that help children learn about many different things, from art to zoology.

Children can learn a lot from just going outdoors. Go to a local park or take a hike, and talk about the different plants and how they grow.Point out the different insects you see. If your park has a stream, look at underwater life.

Academics are not the only things that contribute to children’s learning and development. Creativity and expression are also important.. Use crayons and draw together, or sign your child up for a summer art or drama camp. For musical activities, listen to music, play some of your favorite songs with your children, make up your own songs or learn how to play a musical instrument.

Summers are great for informal learning as well. If kids are interested in animals or cars, expose them to as much as possible to allow them to become real experts in their areas of interest.

As always, it is important to make sure children get time outside for free play – whether it is running around in the backyard or a day at the beach. Children need movement,fresh air and unstructured time to thrive.

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