It is summer! School is out and children across the area looked forward to being free from the day to day routine of going to school. Educators and parents know however, that children and teens must stay engaged over the summer in reading. Children can actually loose ground over the summer in reading capability and comprehension if they do not read.
One way in which churches in the area have sought to increase children’s love for reading is to have Freedom Schools. Freedom School operate under the auspices of the of the Children’s Defense Fund one of the nations leading advocate groups for children. The goal of Freedom Schools is to provide youngsters with a love for reading. Each day children have an opening session called Harambee – at which time they celebrate learning, growing strong and who they can be. Harambee is high energy with singing and chants and cheers. Each day a guest reader from the local community comes to “Read Aloud” to the Freedom School scholars. The “Read Aloud” guest reads and discusses a book with the students. The remainder of the morning focuses on reading and building strong peaceful relationship with each other and the surrounding community. Children’s Defense Fund provides an extensive reading list that provides the children with a variety of topics and stories from a variety of global settings.Afternoons are spent engaging in field trips to museums, zoos and visits to local swimming pools and water parks.
This year we have three UMC churches and/or organizations who are hosting Freedom School. They are Wesley Community Center who has space for 100 students, Grace UMC who has 50 students and Covenant UMC in Springfield who hosts 25 students.
As the District Superintendent for the MIV I would like to see us increase the number of churches involved with Freedom School. Students and Servant Leader Interns are the best advertisement Freedom Schools have. Most of the students and Interns return for multiple years because of the positive influence Freedom School has on their lives. Increasing our capacity insures that children in our community not only learn to read, but are able to read to learn. If you would like more information on Freedom School please call the MIV District Office and we will help you to start or support a Freedom School.