YMCA of Central Ohio

Tackling Summer Learning Loss

Schools are out, vacations are on, and kids across the country are enjoying a break from traditional learning. While it is important to sit back, relax, and enjoy the downtime, the Y is here to prevent the summer from having a negative effect on a youth’s development. Studies have shown that the break in the summer months can set children back significantly in their academics. However, when kids are active and engaged, amazing things can happen.

Summer camps have all kinds of benefits: kids socialize, spend time in the great outdoors, and have a blast all around. But one of the things that sets YMCA camp apart from other summer camps is our efforts to keep children’s brains in tip-top shape, even when they’re outside of the classroom for months at a time.

Across our YMCA Day Camps this summer, more than 3,000 kids will commit to spending 30 minutes of their daily camp experience reading. This is possible through collaboration with the Columbus Metropolitan Library Mobile Library Metro Mouse and books through the First Books Program. At our Ward, Hilltop, Vaughn, Garver and North camps, which have a collective 240 slots funded by Temporary Assistance to Need Families (TANF), kids will experience 30 minutes of math along with their daily 30 minutes of reading.

These math and reading activities are even incorporated in daily programming. Staff pose tasks and challenges that promote problem solving and critical thinking.  For example, while playing basketball, younger campers can track the score of games and add points together or count the number of passes before each shot is taken and older campers may look at probability in game statistics or camp court measurements compared to regulation court measurements.

In addition to these efforts, the YMCA is part of an initiative co-sponsored by Learn4Life and Learning Circle, providing us access to Columbus City School data on children who are in our care. Through this data, staff can identify areas and concepts in math and language arts that their campers need to work on as they participate in our YMCA Summer Programming.


In addition to offering reduced rates for summer camp and high-quality childcare, the YMCA of Central Ohio seeks to close the opportunity gap for low income children with a Summer Learning Prevention Program at Stiles Elementary, operated in partnership with the Southwestern School District.

The Stiles Summer Learning Prevention Program is a part of YMCA of the USA’s national initiative to close the achievement gap. It pairs literacy instruction provided by certified teachers from the SWCS district in the morning with afternoon enrichment led by YMCA youth development staff including Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities, arts, sports and recreation and weekly swim lessons and field trips - all capped off by a healthy lunch.

The goal of the program is to prevent summer learning loss and increase math and reading performance for low-income elementary students performing below grade level. In past years, first graders who participated gained a half year in grade equivalency and rising second graders experienced no slide, better preparing them for the start of the upcoming school year. One hundred percent of parents said the program helped their children to read more often, and with the addition of the another grade level in 2016, the program was able to help students approaching the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

Liz Nusken, Technical Advisor for the Achievement Gap Initiatives under the Youth Development and Social Responsibility Division of the YMCA of the USA, observed the Stiles Elementary program and noted the thoughtful connections built between the academic and enrichment activities, saying “In the afternoon of my visit, students took a field trip to a historical working farm where they saw farm animals and were able to collect chicken eggs. There was significant tie in with morning work that related to farm animals and writing about what they might see and then the afternoon trip to the farm.”

“It was clear from my visit that that the program was having a positive impact on the Stiles community,” said Nusken. “This was a very happy and engaging learning environment and that the staff were doing a great job encouraging the children.”

From our Stiles Elementary program to Day Camp across central Ohio, the Y wants to prevent summer learning loss for every child. To educate yourself and learn what’s available to you, read up on some summer learning loss stats, find out more about the YMCA’s Day Camp program, or learn about Summer Learning Day!