Long Beach Freedom School is a six week summer reading enrichment program that is part of the national Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Program.
The program provides quality out-of-school time enrichment for children ages 6-14 that boosts motivation to read, develops positive attitudes toward learning, cultivates self-esteem and connects the needs of families to local resources. The core belief of this instructional model is that all children are capable of achieving.
There are five components to the Freedom School Model: 1) high quality literacy enrichment, 2) parent and family involvement, 3) civic engagement and social action, 4) intergenerational leadership development and health, and 5) mental health and nutrition.
The Long Beach Freedom School operates for six weeks Monday-Friday from 8:00am-3:00pm during early July until mid-August. The location varies according to affordable space available. Recruitment of the children for the program begins mid March and ends June 30th of each year.
The Integrated Reading Curriculum engages children in books and activities that celebrate a wide variety of cultures and focus on the them, “I Can Make a Difference in Myself and in My Family, Community, Country, and World with Hope, Education and Action.” The instructors or Servant Leader Interns (as they are called) are college students who are trained for one week by the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools Ella Baker Policy Training Institute at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. Servant Leader Interns use the Integrated Reading Curriculum to promote critical and analytical thinking and conflict resolution shills and to introduce children to a superb collection of books reflecting their own images. The afternoon activities allow children the opportunity to explore their interests in music, the arts, community service, social action and other developmental activities. Each child takes a book home each week during the program.
Other aspects of the program:
- Each day begins with Harambee, a 30 minute self and group affirming celebration and preparation for the work ahead. This includes cheers and chants taught to the children by the Servant Leader Interns.
- The children receive two nutritious meals (breakfast & lunch) and two healthy snacks each day.
- Parents are engaged as site volunteers and participate weekly in regular workshops on children’s developmental needs, civic responsibility and other topics of interest.
- Children attend weekly educational field trips than are planned to enrich their learning experience.
- Servant Leaders work with the children to prepare songs, dances, and poems to present to their parents and the community as a part of the Closing Ceremony Program. The Closing Ceremony is used as an opportunity to share what the children have learned all summer and to showcase the overall program. Current donors and potential donors are especially invited to this event.
- Children are supported to dream, set goals for themselves and cultivate positive attitudes and high expectations. If dealing with crises, they are able to receive consistent, daily service to better understand themselves, their situations, each other and their potential.
- Families are afforded a free summer enrichment program and quality childcare.