Written by Patricia Hawke for

An article about the various summer programs available to students in Virginia Public Schools was written recently. The school system is to be commended for recognizing the needs of its students and implementing programs that will best serve their needs. But how does a summer program truly meet the needs of the students?
Well, the most obvious is that a good summer program keeps the kids of Virginia Schools off the streets and involved in something beneficial. Virginia Schools leaders recognize this need and strive to offer its students fun and exciting learning experiences that hopefully rival anything fun that kids may wish to explore on their own. Many students today have to be “latch-key” kids – meaning they have to come home after school to an empty house. Their parent(s) are at work 9-5 and these kids have to rely on themselves to get through afternoons safely. This situation compounds itself during holiday and summer breaks. Feeling lonely and maybe even isolated, kids will most likely look for company and entertainment outside their homes. The summer learning camps offered by Virginia Schools can give these kids something to do and somewhere to go, all in a safe, familiar environment.
Another group of Virginia Schools students that benefit from attending a summer program are kids who may be falling behind academically or who may have special learning needs.  For these Virginia Schools kids, attending school throughout the entire calendar year – summer months included – is vital.  It’s true that students do no retain everything they learn during the regular school year.  In fact, the first several days if not weeks of the new school year are spent on reviewing content from the previous year.  Of course, Virginia Schools teachers (and those elsewhere, of course) would be remiss to assume that their students have retained everything they were exposed to in the last grade.  However, for Virginia Schools students who have even more challenges in front of them, attending summer school will be their only hope to keep the knowledge they have worked so hard to attain.
A third group of Virginia Schools students that can benefit from attending a summer program are those who are actually ahead of the game academically. These students, while typically self-starters, can benefit from attending a summer enrichment program offered by Virginia Schools.  These students can attend classes or programs that may not normally be available to them during the regular school year. Robotics, EMT training,
Acting or music camps are all examples of the different kinds of experiences these Virginia Schools students can expect to choose from.
Hopefully, it is now plain that all groups of students, whether they need academic support, enrichment, or simply a fun, safe place to spend the summer can benefit by attending one of the many summer programs offered by Virginia Schools.