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More Parents Sending Kids to Summer Learning Programs, Survey Finds

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By guest blogger Madeline Will

More children may well spend time in summer learning programs this year, according to new survey results.

The research from the Afterschool Alliance, an organization dedicated to ensuring children have access to affordable after-school programs, shows that 51 percent of families said they wanted their children in a summer program this summer. That would be up from previous years—33 percent reported sending at least one child to a summer learning program last year, and in the summer of 2009, only 25 percent of families said they did.

The Afterschool Alliance polled 13,709 parents across the country this past spring. The full "America after 3 p.m." report will look at demand for after-school programs and is scheduled to be released in the fall, but these summer learning findings were released July 17. (One of the funders of the survey, the Wallace Foundation, also provides grant support to Education Week for coverage of expanded learning time.)

Only a minority of families—13 percent—reported that their summer learning program was free. In 2013, the average weekly cost for those who paid for summer learning programs was $250, the survey found.

The survey noted that this cost puts many summer learning programs out of reach for low-income parents. And research has shown that low-income children are particularly at-risk for falling behind during the summer.

Meanwhile, support for public funding is up—86 percent of parents support it this year, up by three percentage points from 2009.

I've written before that summer reading programs are one of the best ways to tackle the summer slide. And increasingly, both parents and teachers are aware and talking about summer learning loss.

As always, leave your thoughts in the comments: Are you seeing more students head to summer learning programs? Should these programs be publicly funded?

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