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The last day of school is coming soon, but now is the time to plan ahead for lazy days, family time and opportunities to enrich and expand your child’s education. Grab a book, sign up for a class or camp, plan an adventure or move your muscles.

Read

Summer is the perfect time to help children gain or grow a love of reading. In fact, summer reading is critical for maintaining student performance.

Public Education Partners, a Greenville County nonprofit organization focused on improving K–12 public education, collaborated with Scholastic to determine the impact of PEP’s award-winning Make Summer Count initiative, which reaches more than 18,000 K – 5 students across 29 elementary schools in Greenville County. The goal of the program is to help eliminate summer reading loss by supporting learning while students are out of school. Students are given books to help build a home library, and family reading nights are held throughout the summer.

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“Reading is one of the most important activities in which students and families should engage throughout the summer,” Ansel Sanders, President and CEO of Public Education Partners, said. “The phenomenon of the summer reading slide has been well-documented and affects all students, thus making access to books and opportunities to read critical.”

Data from 2016 indicates that 78 percent of students in the program maintained or increased their reading level from spring to fall. Sanders encourages students to choose high-interest, grade-level appropriate books that are just right for their reading level.

Make reading an interactive adventure with local summer reading programs:

• The Greenville County Library System’s Summer Reading Program is June 1 – July 28. The program is open to the public and does not require a library card. Challenges are offered for preschool, kids (ages 3 – 12), teens (ages 13 – 17) and even for adults ages 18 and older. A kickoff is 4 – 5:15 p.m. June 1 at the Hughes Main Library and will include glow-in-the-dark stickers, local mascots like Reedy Rip’It, a children’s used book sale, a stilt-walker and a concert from Farmer Jason. Events throughout the summer feature dancing, wildlife, singing, puppets, reptiles, a planetarium and more. These events require children to bring their summer reading log as their ticket. Visit www.greenvillelibrary.org.

• The Spartanburg County Public Libraries’ Summer Reading Program has something for all ages – children, tweens, teens and adults – to encourage reading. Each age level can meet reading requirements for a chance to win prizes and other incentives. Sign up at any branch or online. The program features crafts, book discussions, film screenings and visitors and performers like Roper Mountain Science Center and the Critter Keeper. Visit www.spartanburglibraries.org or call 864-596-3500.

Learn

Schools across the Upstate offer a wide variety of learning opportunities in the more relaxed atmosphere of summer programming. Does your child want to learn something new or get ahead for the coming school year? Or maybe he or she needs a bit of extra help in a particular subject. Either way, summer programs offer a low-key way to dive into everything from STEM to test prep to specific subject areas. Contact your child’s school or one nearby to see what is available.

Christ Church Episcopal School has an extensive array of academic camps, including Jump Start grade level and subject programs, study skills, algebra review, writing workshops and more. A few courses are even offered for credit. Visit www.cces.org/page/school-life/summer-encounters.

Summer camps at Spartanburg Day School run the gamut from “Let’s Get Ready” grade-level camps to coding and more. Visit www.spartanburgdayschool.org/summer.

For more, see Upstate Parent’s day camp guide at http://tgnmedia.biz/everythingkids.

Explore

The busy days of the school year often mean learning is relegated to the must-dos rather than including a deep exploration of each child’s unique interests. But summer can offer the time for a leisurely look at that one special thing – or list of things – that delights your child’s heart.

Seek out special programming, like that offered at Roper Mountain Science Center, Spartanburg Science Center and other local kid-friendly locations. Schools and community organizations offer kids the chance to immerse themselves in what they love, whether that’s cooking, robotics, art, theater or some other form of expression and creativity. Many camps and day programs have themes, such as the “I Spy Animals” exploration of animal habitats at Shannon Forest Christian School’s Summer at Shannon Program (www.shannonforest.com). Look for free and low-cost family programs at Spartanburg Art Museum (www.spartanburgartmuseum.org), Greenville County Museum of Art (http://gcma.org) and more.

More:May: Story time events

Move

Yes, it’s hot outside, but summer is definitely the time to grow and learn through movement. That can be as simple as spending a play-until-you-drop day at a local park or a first venture into organized sports. Swim lessons and swim teams give kids the chance to gain skill and confidence in the water, and they just might lead to a lifelong hobby.

Cassie Lloyd, Director of Mission Advancement at the YMCA of Greater Spartanburg, said opportunities abound for all children ages 3 – 13. In addition to outdoor adventures, rock climbing, horseback riding and other sports, team sports give kids an opportunity to collaborate with peers, learn leadership and more, all while learning that fitness is fun.

“Our sports camps focus on team sports like soccer, basketball, cheer and tumbling, as well as speed, agility and power development,” Lloyd said.

The Y serves children from all backgrounds and abilities, providing scholarships on a sliding scale based on financial need. Visit www.spartanburgymca.org.

At YMCA of Greenville locations, budding athletes can get moving in camps or team sports as well.

“We have two opportunities to get involved with sports during the summer – camps and our traditional leagues,” Jamie Johnson, Sports Director at the Caine Halter Family YMCA, said. “In our sports camps, we focus on building the person as well as building the athlete. This summer, YMCA of Greenville will be offering basketball, soccer, tennis, karate, wrestling, cheer and speed and agility camps. We will even be offering an international sports camp that will aim to introduce some sports that are popular elsewhere in the world. One of the great aspects of our camps is that they are for all young athletes regardless of their ability and they will have a chance to play a sport in a fun, low pressure atmosphere. We want everyone to finish each week with a better understanding and appreciation in the sport and their ability, all while having fun.”

Johnson said basketball and baseball summer programs will also be offered.

“Summer leagues may be a little more competitive than our camps, but the summertime allows players more time and energy to focus on honing their craft in their chosen sport,” Johnson said.

Visit www.ymcagreenville.org.

More:May: Science, learning and play events

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