April 04, 2022

What Does Summer Look Like for You?

By Brittany Henderson | brittanyh@utahafterschool.org

 child picking dandelions in field                                                                                        

Schools are almost out, and everyone is looking forward to long hot days full of fun in the sun. This is the best time to start planning something fun and exciting.  It's all about spending time reconnecting as a family and making memories. It's not that you need to pencil something down everyday in order to have a memorable time but there is a lot to juggle in the summer and with a little planning and creativity, your summer can be stress free and tons of fun. Parent's always scramble to find after school care, and unfortunately, summer programs have unusually long waiting lists for the summer, so we wanted to share a few strategies to help you make it through the summer! Read on to find out some tips that will help you keep children engaged and excited 

Tips to Plan a Fun Summer

  •  Finding a high quality summer program will help your kids explore a wide variety of learning and experiential opportunities while giving you the peace of mind that they are safe and engaged while you work, here is where you can find them! Utah Afterschool Network - Find a Program
  • Create a family Summer Bucket list and get the kids involved in the brainstorming session, sit down with your kids and write down all the things you want to do for summer and the places you want to go. This is an opportunity to try new ways to enjoy your time together. 
  • Schedule vs. Routine part of the joy of summer is the less scheduled days and activities it is meant for more free- spirited memory making moments. I think having a hybrid approach is best, adding structure to the day is still important and helps to make your day run more smoothly. Trying to manage work schedules and kids' free time can be challenging but it doesn't have to be. Having predictable structures and routines has countless benefits. Your schedule should be flexible and fit into your everyday life. 
  • Keep your everyday activities consistent and aim for a cool daily activity. Daily rituals make a big difference in your summer schedule. With the rising cost of gas, food and staff shortages this may leave families and youth with limited options but that doesn't mean you can't have tons of fun. All parents dread hearing the “ I’m bored statement” create activities that kids can do on their own or with little supervision to help ease the tension. Ultimate summer activities lists and bored Jar lists - Mum In The Madhouse compiles a list of activities to keep the boredom at bay. Choose theme days to do certain things. Make it Monday, Tuesday pool day, etc…
  • When in doubt, staycation and explore your community most families plan for 1 of 3 things: sending kids to summer camp, taking vacations or staying close to home. Look for free community events, visit your local parks, pool or splash pads, take trips to certain museums or zoos. If you have vacations planned look over you calendar and set up activities that are easier 
  • Keep the summer learning door open, reading for enjoyment is a great habit to teach to your kids. Summer is the perfect time to establish some reading goals and eliminate the summer learning slide. Explore your local library, it is a good place to start and add it to your daily activities list.  Check out their resources and events many Libraries  host summer reading challenges for the whole family. 

Totally Worth the Noise and Confusion… 

Dr. Deborah Young is the executive director and learning specialist for the Literacy Action Center. Dr. Young educates and supervises professional staff and community volunteers to work in small groups and one-on-one with our learners. The Literacy Action Center specializes in English-speaking adults whose reading, writing, or math skills are below a fifth grade level and live in Salt Lake County or Davis County in Utah, USA. Please check out their post “Totally Worth the Noise and Confusion”. It includes insights from struggling readers and helpful tips that will support literacy.


Reading aloud is often frowned upon. Why? The two main reasons typically touted are “slows ya down” and “too noisy.” 

Yet, after polling our group, we discovered that reading aloud was important to all of us - expert readers, challenged readers, and beginning readers. And, of course, not for the same reasons. Our group, by the way, are members (tutors and learners) of Literacy Action Center, a nonprofit that helps English-speaking adults grow their literacy skills.

Why are we telling you this? Because we quickly realized that your youth would benefit from our experience. Students in afterschool programs can definitely benefit from reading aloud. Here’s why: 

First, for some of us, reading aloud requires that we take the time to pronounce all the words. We know that vocalizing the words (saying all the words aloud) slows us down, but we also know ourselves. When we read silently, we all admitted to skipping unfamiliar words. Reading aloud forces us to spend time figuring out these unknown words. Sure, not all of these words may be relevant to understanding these stories, but our inexperienced readers assure us that if they don’t know that until they know what’s on the page.  

Second, maybe more importantly, most of us reported that reading aloud helps us concentrate. Naturally, reading aloud blocks out other noises. But, even when the room is absolutely quiet, many of us still need to hear the words in our ears. The auditory feedback, resulting from reading aloud to ourselves, helps us stay focused while concentrating on the meaning of the content, letting us develop images and scenes in our heads. For us, silent reading doesn’t engage us in the same way as reading aloud to ourselves.

Thus, we ask that you encourage students to read aloud after school. This activity may be in a group where someone reads to the group, while the students follow along. Or, two partners might take turns reading a story to each other. Or, even better, an individual could hang out in a corner, engaged in a fantastic tale. Believe us, the noise is totally worth it!

P.S. If you’re concerned about the noise level, consider using whisper tubes. These short pieces of plastic piping with an elbow on each end lets a reader whisper into the tube. As readers whisper into their own tubes, no one else can hear them, but they can hear their own voices very loudly in their own ears. 

Feedback Builds Confidence

By Ray

When I was younger, I did not have the opportunity to read. Teachers did the reading for me, and I didn’t comprehend the words that they were reading to me. 

Because of all the ongoing, detailed feedback and interactions I’ve had from reading aloud to others, my ability to pronounce and understand words has increased tremendously. Now I can read (and often understand what I’m reading). In fact, now I love to read. 

Please give your students the opportunity to get feedback as they read aloud to you or another good reader. This opportunity will help your students build their reading skills outside of the classroom, just like it did for me. 

Give Them a Buy-In

By Kathy

Wake your participants up (or keep them awake!) by asking them up front about their interests.  The hard work of engaging beginning readers will go more smoothly if they have ownership. Let them choose the subject. You may even eliminate resistance and whining when they say to you, “I’m bored”, “Reading is too hard”, and “Why would I want to read about this? I just want to learn to read.” Their choices will keep their interest.

More Choices

By Danny

I think broadening the reading materials available to your students is important. When I was in school, I was in special ed. Our reading curriculum was over-simplified and lacked stimulation. I really wanted to read books such as Harry Potter, but it was assumed it would be too difficult, and it probably was. However, I never had the chance to see if I could learn to read them. 

Offering an after-school book club to your students would allow them to experience more difficult stories. Engaging your students in this activity would keep your students motivated and successful.

Your summer should be enjoyable and with a little planning it can be if you start early. Trying to manage work schedules and kids' free time can be challenging but it doesn't have to be. Whether you work or are a stay at home parent you need practical ideas to keep you kids busy during the summer months. Leave some room for spontaneity, be flexible with your family and make some new traditions.   

Don't forget to check out or previous post and UAN resources for Summer


Walshaw, Jen. Ultimate summer activities list and bored jar list. Mum In the Madhouse, https://www.muminthemadhouse.com/ultimate-summer-activities-lists-bored-jar-lists/. Accessed 28 April 2022.

Alan, G. (2006). Afterschool Achievement: Strengthening Literacy & Other Skills. SEDL Letter, 18(1). 6-8.

 Extending and Enhancing Literacy Learning Afterschool Programs: A Practice Guide

Photo by Amanda Kirsh | Burst.shopify.com




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