Summer Program Weaves Education in with Play|6-6-2012
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A local community organization is working to keeps kids’ brains sharp over the summer months.
The YMCA has created a program that mixes recreation with the three R’s.
And the curriculum is popular with children; about thirty kids play a spirited game of kickball in a gymnasium in West Monroe.
|Members of the YMCA's Summer Camp Program|
They are all members of the YMCA’s summer day camp.
Math and Reading Mixed in with Playtime
But it’s not all fun and games. The staff has incorporated education into the daily activities.
Nine-year-old Gabby Miller explains.
“We, like, read and we do like kind of a little bit of math.”
YMCA childcare director, Ashley Watkins, says the program works on the assumption that, even though kids are out of school for the summer, they need a balance between work and play.
“We do enforce math games and reading, so it’s not just sitting home all summer, doing nothing, playing video games. So it kind of gets them back in the field and in the mode of learning versus doing nothing but playing video games. And it’s also fun.”
Ten-year-old McKenzie Moore agrees.
“We do, like some arts and crafts and all of that too. But the math, I like that the best, if I had to choose.”
Ashley Watkins says involving academics in the curriculum involves some clever repurposing of standard material.
“When we say math games, we have ‘Uno,’ and of course we count. And different games of that sort that involve counting. So we call them math games so kids won’t just think, ‘math, I’m actually having to do work.’ So we call them games, to make it fun.”
Even with the fun atmosphere, some children long for a bigger challenge. Camp-member Charlie Pealer says that if it were up to him, he’d add another academic component to the camp schedule.
“I would have to be doing division. It’s sort of fun when you have to figure out – it’s a little harder than multiplication, but you can do it. If you practice you can do it.”
Despite the enthusiasm for math, other academic applications are part of the program.
Site director, Joanna Parker, says that books will play an increasing role in children’s summer camp activities.
“We’re going to start incorporating reading into our quiet time for the younger ones, and for the older ones.”
Additional Educational Experiences
But learning will not stop with story-time.
“I think they can learn in anything they do. That’s part of this. They’re learning new games and new activities and new ways to participate with each other and share and do things. And that’s all part of helping the mind work. Just because we’re not sitting in a classroom doesn’t mean they can’t learn.”
The camp directors have also introduced new educational activities into the daily agenda.
Joanna Parker says the children will take field trips this summer that the camp has never before organized.
“They’ve got us scheduled for the – it’s changed names, it was the Safari Park in Delhi, I don’t know if it’s still called that or not – they’re going there. And they’re going to Ruston: the planetarium and maybe their museum there at Tech. And then the children’s museum is new this year.”
The cost of the program is $160 per child every two weeks. It will run until July 27.
Air Date: Wed, 06/06/2012