To help keep local children motivated throughout the summer, the Village of Wellington is launching a summer reading and math incentive program.
Initiated by the Wellington Education Committee, the program aims to encourage local students in kindergarten through fourth grade to keep a log of all their summer reading and math activities, with a celebration at the end of the summer for participants.
The concept was approved by the Wellington Village Council on Tuesday.
“We wanted to start a new program to support math and reading,” Committee Vice Chair Michelle McGovern said. “As some of you may know, there’s something called the ‘summer slide’ — that’s what happens to kids when they’re not in school every day. Despite the successes we’ve seen them make during the school year, they take a step back.”
To help prevent this, the committee has been discussing ideas to keep children motivated. “Anything we can do to support those kids going into the next school year, we’d like to do,” McGovern explained.
The Wellington Education Committee has been one of the village’s more pro-active committees and earlier this year secured a grant from Wellington to help local students struggling in math and reading. Named the Keely Spinelli Grant, the program awarded nearly $275,000 to 11 Wellington public schools.
McGovern said the incentive program would be a way to continue to keep all children — but especially those who struggle — interested in reading and math all summer long.
“We would ask the kids to keep math and reading logs over the summer,” she said. “At the end of the summer, we would hope Wellington would host a special free movie night. We’d really step it up and ask businesses to come and support the children, and then offer some incentives for those kids who come and turn in their math and reading logs.”
This is similar to other programs promoted by local libraries, Barnes & Noble and other organizations.
“We accept all of it,” McGovern said. “We want our kids reading and practicing their math. We’d like to market it as much as possible.”
Currently the program targets children in kindergarten through fourth grades. According to a staff report, a letter to be sent to parents would encourage 60 to 120 minutes of reading per week, as well as completing math activities, such as problem-solving games, online.
Councilwoman Anne Gerwig said the program would benefit all of Wellington. “I see this as a great way to get the elementary [students] to stay interested, but I’d like to see us engage the middle school [children],” she said. “Publix does a math night for some of the schools. Maybe we could lead this into our older children, who get pretty bored in the summer.”
McGovern said that when the committee approached principals about the program, it seemed to motivate them.
“They probably had summer programs that they were planning on organizing, but it made them step it up because we’re doing this as a village, all together,” she said. “I think that the more we continue to partner with our schools, the more progress we’re going to make overall.”
Vice Mayor John Greene said Wellington’s schools are a large reason families choose to live here.
“When you look at the investment that we’re making and the effort put in by everyone involved, we all benefit from that,” he said. “It’s a benefit to everyone in Wellington.”
He asked how the program would be promoted. McGovern said the village would put out a letter through the Community Services Department that will specify the program each school is promoting.
She also said she hopes to expand the program in coming years.
“We want to start small here, but I promise we’ll be back next year with an idea that might do a little bit more,” McGovern said. “We are starting with [kindergarten through fourth grades], but we want to step it up to include middle school and high school.”
Council members voted unanimously to support the initiative.