READING, Pa. (CBS) — How do you keep kids reading over the summer? Reading brings teachers and books to local parks. We joined them at 11th and Pike to see some open-air education.
We found teacher Chris Evans shaking the boredom right out of a group of giggling kids lying facedown on a blanket. With some firm yanks on the blanket, Chris bounced the laughing kids to and fro.
“You hear the rocks movin’, oh no!” Chris said.
The class is pretending to be in an earthquake, complete with a speaker blasting the sounds of falling rocks.
“This is Teachers in the Parks, so we’re in a park,” Chris said. “We’re not in a classroom. So ‘park’ means you’re gonna have fun.”
Teachers in the Parks, or TIPS, is a free summer program held twice a week in three Reading parks. The goal: stop the summer slide. That’s when lessons are forgotten, and students have to catch up in the fall.
“It’s unconventional, but we’re not school,” said Daphne Klahr, executive director of the Reading Recreation Commission. “We want kids to be in a fun environment where they can experience nature and be outside. They don’t have to sit at a desk in a building to learn.”
Teacher Michelle Frey says being outside is no distraction. Not only are her students absorbing a dramatic book, they’re looking for vocabulary words.
“Most time in the summer, I don’t get bored,” said 10-year-old Bryan Escobar. “I go to the park and I actually have something to do.”
Michelle said, “As a fifth-grade teacher, I love that by the time the kids come back – if they’re in this program – they come back more confident, because they know they haven’t lost anything.”
The program is especially needed in a city like Reading, where 50% of the students live in poverty.
“We have kids who struggle to have their basic needs met, so when it comes to learning, sometimes that’s not always at the forefront of priorities,” Daphne said.
So they’re bringing the fun to reading fundamentals, proving that school being out doesn’t mean learning is over.