Recreation Worcester is a program developed by the Office of the City Manager of Worcester to provide wholesome, interesting activities for children in the City’s parks. 

The initiative has also provided a platform on which to offer activities to children to mitigate summer learning loss—a major contributor to achievement gaps between middle income children and their low-income peers.

Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do.
— Children’s Aid Society and the National Institute for Summer Learning

The Worcester Education Collaborative developed a summer learning curriculum for implementation through Recreation Worcester.  The curriculum is divided thematically (eg. map-making; signs, signals and coding) and uses a series of activities to build upon, apply, and reinforce information and skills aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. 

To prepare children for learning, staff offered group time and then described the activities from which participants could choose. Activities included both individual and group work, thus reinforcing both academic and social skills. Children who participated in a designated number of activities earned a button—similar to a scouting merit badge for their efforts.

Two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college.
— Children’s Aid Society and the National Institute for Summer Learning

Stemming Summer Learning Loss and Having Fun

Children who attend the Worcester Recreation programs at 10 parks in the city this summer are getting a curriculum of activities from WEC, designed to be fun, educational and help stem summer loss.

Check out Jennifer Davis Carey’s “As I See It” on summer learning loss. -

WEC staff developed the experiential, playful, learning curriculum for Recreation Worcester’s summer program staff.  The curriculum is a comprehensive document with activities and instructions for organized thematically by week and fully aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.

Most students lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, while their middle-class peers make slight gains. When this pattern continues throughout the elementary school years, lower income youth fall more than two and one-half years behind their more affluent peers by the end of fifth grade.
— Children’s Aid Society and the National Institute for Summer Learning


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