While most children are playing games and having fun during their summer break, a group of Boys and Girls Clubs of Manatee members focused on their education.

“I like playing here and learning here,” said Jadyn, 8. 

This year, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Manatee offered a summer learning loss prevention program called Summer Brain Gain.

“It’s a program designed to help kids retain knowledge they got during the school year,” said Roshun Williams, a teacher with the Summer Brain Game program. “It keeps them on track and used to learning.  But, because it’s summer, it’s designed to be fun also.”

Williams said the program is like being in school but different.

Back-to-School 2015

Summer Brain Gain was developed in partnership with the International ArtScience Prize Program, the Walt Disney Company and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

It was designed specifically to be used in Boys & Girls Clubs to counter learning loss through the summer.

Summer Brain Gain is an interdisciplinary, project-based curriculum based on a model developed at Harvard University. The program fosters creative thinking, incites passion about learning and applies classroom content to real world issues.  

Students said it’s fun.

“We got to go outside more,” said Sadie, 8.

The program is also designed to keep students ahead.

“As the odds begin to stack up against a child trying to keep pace with their education, it can cause a great deal of anxiety and frustration," said Dawn Stanhope, president of Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County. “When members participate in Summer Brain Gain, they have fun, stay on track and, sometimes, even surpass their peers at the beginning of the school year.”  

Research shows during the summer, students can lose up to two months' worth of math and reading skills, making them fall behind.

“As an educator, I know sometimes when they’ve been on break all summer, they had no learning,” Williams said.  “It’s very hard to get back into the groove and they start to get behind.”

Manatee County is particularly challenged with an on-time graduation rate, which is the percent of freshmen who graduate in four years. The county's rate is 65 percent, which trails both the state and national averages of 75 percent and 81 percent, respectively.

The students who attended the recent summer camp in Manatee said they feel they’re now ahead.

“I thought all those skills were going to be bad, but I still know I have all those skills in me,” said Antonio, 8.  “I’m fine now.”

For now the program is only offered at a few of the clubs in Manatee County. The organization is hoping to expand it in the future. 

The Summer Brain Gain Program is designed to go up thought middle school.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County received a $40,000 grant from United Way of Manatee County for the summer learning loss prevention program.

“By focusing efforts to prevent summer learning loss in partnership with organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs, we can help guide our young people down a path to academic and career success,” said Philip Brown, president of United Way of Manatee County. “This is vital to having a healthy community.”

Stanhope said she is very thankful for the help.

“If we are truly going to make a difference in helping our kids achieve academic success, we must change this dynamic by offering proven strategies that help reinforce what they learn in school,” said Stanhope. “We are fortunate to have caring partners like the United Way of Manatee County to help us empower our kids to build a stronger community.”

For more information or to arrange a tour, call 761-2582 or visit www.bgcmanatee.org.