Valuable break in summer vacation

August 21, 2008 12:00 am

Baker School District's summer sessions for students who are learning English, or who have struggled with reading, are rich in potential, and we hope the district can afford to continue the programs.

Summer school can be valuable for any student, of course.

But we think such sessions are especially helpful for students who are striving not only to learn several subjects, but also to improve their reading skills or, in the case of English as a Second Language (ESL) students, to learn the language in which those subjects are taught.

During Baker's experimental four-week ESL summer program, 15 students were able to concentrate on mastering English without the distractions of homework and recess and dozens of classmates.

The program also helped to prevent the students' English skills from regressing during the three-month summer vacation.

This is particularly important because most of the students' parents don't speak English at home, said Ma'Lena Wirth, who along with Susan Yen was the students' teacher this summer.

The sooner those students become fluent in English, the more likely it is they'll succeed in school.

The non-ESL students who participated in summer school sessions at South Baker, Brooklyn and North Baker also are at risk of falling behind their classmates. Even native English speakers tend to struggle at school if their reading comprehension lags — and the students' learning gap usually widens as they advance in grades.

We're confident that years from now, the students who spend part of the summer in the classroom will be thankful they had the chance to sacrifice a third of their vacation.