Photo by Brophy Flickr | Loyola Academy students work on their schoolwork
By George Anton ’21
During June, Brophy hosts the Summer Loyola Project (LP) for kids in grades K-5.
It is a great opportunity for kids to have fun in June and also practice some academic skills in order to prepare them for the following school year.
After being a tutor for two children, I found that they enjoyed Summer LP, but were dissatisfied at times.
It is important that Summer LP tutors kids, but changing the style to engage children and animate the classroom will make it a better experience for them. They are full of energy and struggle to stay sedentary. Active learning will be an outlet for them to release some of it.
Summer LP provides great academic help for kids before they enter into the next school year. However, they are never enthusiastic about being stuck in a classroom for a couple of hours for the first month of their summer break.
My two “buddies” were both headed into fifth grade and were full of energy. They constantly asked me how much longer before we went out to break and complained that they were bored.
Christian Kelly ‘21, a former buddy and tutor, recalled his experience being taught in the classroom. “We’d go into the classroom and instead of worksheets on math, we’d do math games,” Kelly said.
Kelly says that the games made the academic part of Summer LP more enjoyable than practicing math problems.
As a tutor, Kelly saw that the academics of Summer LP had changed and were not as entertaining as they used to be. I’m sure most high schoolers can agree that playing Kahoot is more fun than taking notes or filling out worksheets.
Similar to Kelly, Riley Oldani ’21 was a buddy and a tutor. “[Summer LP] was created to help tutor kids,” Oldani said. He believes that the Loyola Project should be oriented towards academics. However, he does think that the multiple water days when he was there were more fun.
Mr. Paul Fisko, the director of Summer LP, says that having fun is not the only aspect of the program that the kids experience.
“Summer LP is basically a combination of three things; first of all having fun, secondly skill building or practicing basic skills of reading and math. And then, of course, the other part of it is encouraging creativity,” Mr. Fisko said. It is important to realize that fun is not the only aspect of Summer LP.
One of the changes in the program this past summer was introducing the adventure zone. In the adventure zone, which had a bird theme this year, the kids and their tutors would spend one day a week learning about birds and building ornithopters, which are machines designed to fly like a bird.
Overall, my buddies enjoyed their time in the adventure zone, studying birds, going on scavenger hunts and building an ornithopter. However, besides the scavenger hunt, the kids had to sit in the same place for several hours, which was very hard for them considering how energetic they were.
The Adventure Zone was a good step towards making learning more exciting and engaging but it was not perfect and did have some bumps along the way as any new program would. Since most young children struggle to keep their focus while learning, especially while sitting for so long, it would be a good addition to add an additional break. But the Adventure Zone did have some successes.
Mr. Fisko said that the Adventure Zone was successful in that it “was a pressure release valve.”
It drew kids out of every classroom and therefore enabled more things to get done and more attention to be given to each child. It also helped kids develop mechanical skills while building an ornithopter.
Both Kelly and Oldani have seen Summer LP introduce more academics in the place of fun playtime and arts and crafts. Nevertheless, both said that Summer LP helped them develop skills that helped them during the school year and lifelong memories of having fun.
Mr. Fisko says that it is true that Summer LP has had an “increased intentionality about what we have kids do in their tutoring time.” He said that we have to consider what the parents want when they send their kids to Brophy.
Mr. Fisko and the Office of Faith and Justice have worked hard every year to make Summer LP the best experience for the kids who attend. Although learning in the summer can be tedious for young children, it is important that they have fun, learn valuable skills and stimulate their creativity.