By Karl Weisel (USAG Wiesbaden)July 22, 2010
WIESBADEN, Germany - "Statistically kids lose 80 percent of what they learned over the school year during summer vacation," said Vanessa Brown, teacher in charge of Wiesbaden's Summer Enrichment Program at Hainerberg Elementary School.
Brown, who teaches fourth-grade at Hainerberg during the school year and was leading a mixed class of third- and fourth-graders during the four-week summer session, said, "keeping students engaged during the summer months" was the intent of the Summer Enrichment Program.
While some students and parents might assume that taking classes outside of the regular school year is remedial, that is definitely not the case, Brown said. "This is not remedial, it's enrichment. It includes a lot of hands-on activities - a lot of literature and a lot of classical music."
After listening to a reading of the book "Chanticleer and the Fox," a morality tale by Geoffrey Chaucer, students in Brown's class were racing to see who could cut out and unscramble a series of words to form sentences. The activity was aimed at reinforcing reading and comprehension skills with a fun, hands-on exercise.
"The classes involve a lot of teamwork," said Brown, explaining that by having mixed grade-level classes, students help motivate their peers. "Peer tutoring is a powerful tool."
Makyla Jones, who will attend fifth-grade in the fall, said she really likes the Summer Enrichment Program. "I like that we do a lot of artwork and a lot with words which is probably my best subject. And I like my teacher a lot."
"I like summer school because it's fun - doing art and reading," added classmate Charles Barker.
LaVera Long, who teaches at Wiesbaden Middle School during the regular school year, said she liked having the opportunity to work with younger children during the Summer Enrichment Program.
"This gives the kids a chance to meet other kids and a chance to practice those skills that they learn in regular school - and it keeps them occupied," said Long.
The four-week Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe program for youths in grades kindergarten to eight, which features classes weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon, helps develop and reinforce student proficiency in mathematics and language arts. Classroom materials are provided by Voyager Expanded Learning with students up to fifth-grade participating in a curriculum known as Kaleidoscope and older students learning in the American Dream curriculum.
"This year they also offered some technology which was new," said Long, explaining that students were able to log in to learning materials at home to play math games and tackle other online educational challenges.
"It's kind of like regular school, but you have more fun," said Joshua Casado, who will be a fifth-grader when school resumes at the end of summer. With less pressure, no tests or report cards, Casado said, "it doesn't feel like learning - it's fun."
"It goes by really fast," added Brown, about the summer program.