July 06, 2015 12:00 am By Brian Bullock
Teachers call it “summer slide” — the regression children show in the classroom after returning from the two-month break from school.
Peoples’ Self-Help Housing, which provides learning centers for about 240 Central Coast kids, has extended its Youth Education Enhancement Program into the summer to prevent the dreaded slide. YEEP provides learning assistance at eight sites from Carpinteria to Paso Robles with local sites in Santa Maria, Orcutt, Guadalupe and Arroyo Grande.
“During the school year, it’s more meat and potatoes,” said Cami Waller, a YEEP educator at Los Adobes de Maria in Santa Maria. “The summer program is more ice cream sundaes. We try to make it a lot more fun.”
At Los Adobes de Maria, Waller’s group of close to 40 kids has been focusing its work this summer on immigrants, pioneers and settling the Santa Maria Valley. She said all of their lessons, no matter what the subject — math, language arts or social studies — have something to do with the core subject.
Peoples’ Self-Help Housing opened up a YEEP program in the Mariposa Townhomes development in Orcutt in November. The 80-unit low-income housing development is home to approximately 300 people with close to 40 enrolled in the summer YEEP program. Other local YEEPs are at the River View Townhomes in Guadalupe and the Coutrland Street Apartments in Arroyo Grande.
Program Manager Alejandra Mahoney said they decided to extend YEEP to the summer because of its outstanding results during the school year. She said their students have shown a 95-percent increase in math proficiency, 70 percent in language arts and 82 percent have improved in both subjects.
“All of the children improved overall — 100 percent,” she said.
Yanelly Vital, YEEP educator in Orcutt, took advantage of her students’ interest in cellphone apps for their first project of the summer.
“I asked who uses cellphones and every hand in the room shot up,” she said with a laugh. “The kids said they were bored with the old apps, so we decided to try to come up with our own apps. They work in groups. We really need to learn how to collaborate.
“We’re also focusing on reading and on math. Those are areas the parents wanted us to focus on this summer.”
One of the more creative apps the kids created was called Jurassic World 3-D, where a Tyrannosaurus rex chases zombies and humans. It scores points by how many it catches.
In addition to the studies, the children get to play board games, computer games and have an hour of physical education each day. Field trips are also part of the summer program with visits to Waller Park and Paul Nelson Pool planned.
“I like that we learn here and especially the PE. It’s really fun,” said 12-year-old Emillano Balderas. “I enjoy it a lot.”