CHARLOTTE, N.C.-- It may be called “school,” but Freedom School is anything but typical. Kids start their day jumping and singing, hooting and hollering!
They wear crazy sunglasses and can dye their hair pink. It feels more like summer camp then summer learning. That’s the goal of the program that takes place all over the country, and at 19 different sites throughout Mecklenburg County.
Zach Nedzbala graduated from Providence Day School. The Charlotte private school was the first independent school in the country to host Freedom School.
"When they hear Freedom School, they think school.,” said Nedzbala. “But it's absolutely not school. We try to have a great time. One of the reasons I do this is because a lot of the kids don't have a great male presence at home,” he said.
The goal of Freedom School is to encourage learning throughout the summer. The emphasis is on literacy.
Domingo Morris is a rising fifth grader. What would he be doing if he weren’t spending six weeks at Freedom School?
“I’d probably be staring at my T.V.” he said.
LIndsey Barrett is a Butler High School graduate, who is now studying education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“A lot of people aren't getting the same education, based on zip code. (That) depends on what education you get,” she said.
Barrett believes Freedom School is changing that, giving kids opportunities in the summer that will promote lifelong learning.
As for Morris, he says he has goals for the fall.
"My goal is to try to get all A's,” he said.
And he thanks the volunteers at Freedom School.
“I'll say thank you because they offered their time to let us have some fun,” said Morris.
Academic leaders at Providence Day offered advice for all parents who want their children to continue learning throughout the summer.
Those tips include:
Create a family book club.
Read with your kids for 20 minutes a day and talk about what you've read.
Let your children see you read.
Cook together. It will help with science and math skills.
And finally, take your child to community festivals where they will be exposed to different cultures. While there, ask questions so your child sees you engaging with others.
If your child witnesses you asking questions, it will help them feel empowered to ask questions as well.