Even though school is out for the summer, the technology room at Holly Ridge Primary is a busy place on Monday mornings. On June 12th, for example, students were using nearly all of the room’s two dozen computers, working on a personalized learning program called Moby Max. Some students were focused on literacy skills. Ilan Azpeitia, who will be a first-grader this fall, was getting a little help with letter and word recognition from community volunteer Audrey Hill.
“I love kids,” said Hill, who volunteers regularly at Holly Ridge during the school year.
Meanwhile, other students, including sisters Yusr and Noor Fida El Din, tackled tough math problems, honing their fact fluency and number sense. None of the students seemed to mind being in school on a beautiful summer morning.
“I wanted to do this because school is my favorite thing to do,” said Noor Fida El Din, who will be a third-grader this fall.
“I love to go to Moby Max,” added Yusr Fida El Din, who is going into fourth grade. “There are a lot of things to do.”
Along with reading and math, Moby Max helps students build writing, science and social studies skills and knowledge, and rewards them with fun and educational games and challenges. But the students don’t tackle Moby Max alone; along with volunteers like Hill, teachers from Holly Ridge and its sister school, Holly Hills, volunteer their time to work with students on Monday mornings in June and July. They meet in the Holly Ridge technology room and at the Glendale YMCA, which is closer to many of the families’ homes.
“I love kids and it gives me a chance to interact with them in a smaller group setting and help them from experiencing that ‘summer slide,’” said Deb McMullen, a kindergarten teacher.
The so-called “summer slide” is when students lose some of the academic gains they made during the previous school year.
“What we’ve seen is if they haven’t done any reading all summer, then they come back and you have to start back maybe a couple months,” said Barb Raley, a literacy intervention teacher. She explained that having to take time to help kids “catch up” leaves less time to help them continue to advance academically.
Research shows that the summer slide is worse for students from low-income families. At Holly Ridge, more than 77% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch, while at Holly Hills, nearly 82% of students qualify, which indicates a high number of low-income families. That’s why the Hollys work hard to stop the summer slide.
“Reading is important,” McMullen added. “But it’s also important for them to go out there and ask questions then go back and find the answers to those questions… To build that curiosity and encourage that growth mindset.”
Parents like Yousif Fida El Din, Yusr and Noor’s father, are grateful for the summer support.
“It’s like continuous education,” Fida El Din said. “They don’t forget the things they learned before. It’s a great opportunity and I really appreciate that.”
The teachers and community volunteers say they are happy to give up a little of their summer to support Hollys students.
“It’s fun and we love our kids,” Raley said. “We’re excited to do it.”