The school year is winding down and summer learning is almost in session. While you’ve been planning your summer program for months, it’s easy to let a few things “fall between the cracks.” To help out, we’ve compiled a list of last-minute tips to make sure your summer learning program starts and runs smoothly throughout the summer.
The school year is winding down and summer learning is almost in session. While you’ve been planning your summer program for months, it’s easy to let a few things “fall between the cracks.”
To help out, we’ve compiled a list of last-minute tips to make sure your summer learning program starts and runs smoothly throughout the summer.
1. Finalize your weekly schedule and daily lesson plans.
Structure the day to allot time for a range of activities. You may want to schedule time for:
- Organized games for a large group of students.
- Projects and clubs, like dance, cooking, science and drama.
- Lunch and snack times.
- Naps and quiet times.
- Storytelling and sing-along.
- Free play
- Special events, like treasure hunts, beach parties, water-works day and carnivals.
Make sure you have lesson plans and resources available for staff to access each day. You can print them and store them in a binder or keep them organized on a designated computer or laptop. Aim to have schedules and lesson plans finalized at least one week before the program begins.
2. Provide orientation and training for staff.
You’ve already hired a quality staff to help run your summer program. Now it’s time to discuss expectations and familiarize them with the day-to-day operations of the program.
You may begin with answering a few administrative questions staff may have, like when they will get paid, how many breaks they’ll get throughout the day and how they can request days off. Then, discuss program policies and procedures. Make sure they’re familiar with the program schedule, check-in/out policy, disciplinary actions and other important procedures.
Keep in mind that summer staff may have little to no experience working with children. Use role plays and other active learning techniques to present scenarios that may occur - like a medical emergency or losing a child - and discuss solutions with your staff. Summer programs are typically less structured than school-year programs, so it’s important that staff is flexible and can stay “on their toes.”
Just as important, staff should be aware of safety rules and procedures. With all the outdoor time and field trips, summer is a time when there are more likely to be accidents, emergencies or crises. Review these tips from Summer Program Tips, Strategies & Activities to ensure staff is familiar with program safety:
- Develop guidelines for the playground and field trips.
- Post a chart of emergency treatment.
- Post emergency numbers by the phone and store them in the mobile phone.
- Put together a first-aid kit.
- Post copy of treatment for insect bites and stings.
- Inform staff of children with allergies to insect stings, poison ivy, peanuts, pets and other animals.
- Ensure all staff on duty are trained in CPR.
- Provide additional training and workshops for staff.
3. Stock up on supplies and learning resources.
Don’t wait until after your summer program begins to purchase program supplies and resources. Take time now to ensure you have everything you need to carry out the lessons and activities you have planned for students.
We provide a range of games, equipment and resources that are perfect for summer learning and fun, like rainbow parachutes, arts and crafts and STEM toolkits. Students will spend a large portion of the day in your summer program, so it helps to have a variety of supplies and equipment to keep students active and engaged.
Are you offering summer meals to participating students? Make sure you’ve made proper arrangements to provide a meal and snacks for students each day your program is in session. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) can help you provide healthy meals to students during the summer. You can also contact organizations such as the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), Feeding America and No Kid Hungry to find organizations that may be sponsoring summer meals in your area.
If you’re working with a limited budget, you can also request donations from parents, local businesses and community organizations. Build a stockpile of healthy snacks and bottled water to ensure you never run out of food items for students.
4. Provide parents with necessary information.
Send a newsletter or email communication to parents at least two weeks before your program begins. Make sure they’re aware of the weekly schedule, check-in/out policy, safety procedures, field trips and other important program information. This is also a great opportunity to request any supplies or resources they may need to provide for their child, like an additional set of clothing, sunscreen or bagged lunch.
It may also help to send regular communications to keep parents updated with program news, upcoming events or field trips and other notifications. It’s important for parents to be “in the loop” with what’s happening in your program.
Summer vacation is on the horizon. Use these last-minute tips to make sure your summer program runs without a hitch. For more advice on planning your summer program, check out Summer Program Tips, Strategies & Activities for School-Agers 5-14 Years-Old.