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Effective Summer Curriculum

"For some children, summertime means camp, visits to museums, parks, and libraries, and access to a variety of fun and enriching activities. For many low-income children, however, the reality of summer is far from this ideal."







We reviewed a number of curricula commonly used in summer programs. Based on the association’s Quality Standards for Summer Learning Programs, we offer the following description of what effective summer curriculum should do.

An Effective Summer Curriculum Should:

  1. Align with your program’s identified goals
  2. Provide high-quality learning experiences and activities (link to Activities page—copied directly from old site)

    a. geared toward your program’s academic and development goals

  3. Reinforce what is taught during the school year, but look and feel different, providing natural linkages to physical activity, arts, cultural awareness, and social development:

    a. suggest field trips and community events
    b. promote interaction with peers and instructors
    c. include hands-on, project-based activities, skill-building, and new talent development
    d. use language that is youth-based and inclusive

  4. Provide both flexibility and structure:

    a. include goals and themes 
    b. include at least 6 weeks of sequential programming
    c. allow grouping by age and/or individual needs

  5. Offer assessment tools which go beyond standardized measures of success:

    a. include performance-based, staff observations and portfolios
    b. offer multiple assessment tools that allow informed lesson planning by instructors

  6. Provide a user-friendly staff development component which guides and coaches staff on effective implementation of curriculum:

    a. does not assume a particular background or experiences of staff
    b. offer ideas on how to start, continue and end an activity

  7. Use ‘summer friendly’ language

    a. acknowledge summer as different from other time periods
    b. promote summer culture by fostering a program spirit through routines or cheers, providing a culminating event, and supporting flexible work spaces

Find summer curriculum for your program.

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