Summer Volunteers Build Literacy Through Creativity

Sara MartinezPrograms, Volunteers

Summer Volunteers Build Literacy Through Creativity

The WITS Early Childhood Summer Program (ECSP) is a five-week kindergarten readiness program. Each site is led by a CPS teacher and a WITS staff member and activates community volunteers. ECSP focuses on building three essential academic skills: reading, writing, and oral language in order to prepare these early learners for school in the fall.

What is ECSP?

Stars indicate ECSP 2019 sites

WITS serves seven CPS neighborhood elementary schools during this summer program. The program focuses on a different fairy tale every week, such as Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

The morning message, centers, and story acting incorporate these fairy tales to build key literacy skills. Program begins and ends with zoo-phonics, a fun activity that reinforces letter and sound recognition. Starting last year, WITS partners with the University of Chicago’s Ready, Set, STEM! program. Four of our schools, de Diego, McAuliffe, Sumner, and Perez, incorporate concepts from the morning session into this engaging afternoon session.

What Do Summer Volunteers Do?

ECSP recruits 50-55 volunteers every summer. They can chose to volunteer up to 4 days a week. This program is unique because it activates more community volunteers than corporate volunteers. Individuals are brought together from different communities to help serve neighborhood schools and its students.

The students served are typically going into Kindergarten in the fall. They either have never been to school before or just completed preschool. This program helps build fundamental literacy and classroom skills. Volunteers are essential in this process.

When students arrive volunteers help them trace letters, write their names, and match rhyming words. During centers volunteers help students learn the basics of how to read by practicing print awareness in the library. Students creatively re-imagine the fairy tales during story acting, and volunteers help spark their imagination. Throughout the five weeks, volunteers are able to open students up to the magical world of books all while preparing them for kindergarten.