Issues in Summer Schooling
The issue of what to teach and who shall do it and under what circumstances and how are the main issues facing a summer school program. When these issues are decided then and only then can the program have a chance of being successful.
|What to teach?|
Many people have many different ideas about what a summer school should be. Is it an academic-prep program? Is it a fun and games program? Is it a religious-intensive camp or is it a sports clinic? In our experience, it must be a combination of the above with an emphasis on making the child happy, or at least keeping them content and engaged, so that they have no objections to giving up a few days of "their" summer.
In our years of experience, the best program consists of only four classes. One class combines Islam and Arabic into one subject. Another class is strictly art-oriented. A third class is story/poem/plays and literature oriented while the last class is organized sports activities. The daily schedule looks like this:
10:00 am-10:30 am Class one.
10:35 am-11:20 am Class two.
11:25 am-12:00 pm Class three.
12:00 pm-12:25 pm Light lunch/snack break.
12:30 pm-1:10 pm Sports.
1:15 pm Zuhr Salah and then end.
|About the Teachers|
You should choose good, quality teachers. Given that it is still a regular work schedule for most adults, you may have trouble finding older teachers. But have you considered the college-going Muslims? They make wonderful teachers and quickly earn the admiration and affection of the youth. When properly guided, such college-aged teachers become important community resources.
In addition, you want to make sure you select teachers who have a pleasant disposition. The last thing you need is a grumpy, sour and mean teacher in your summer school. Even if the grumpy person is a so-called "scholar", if that person is of a foul temper then how much of a scholar are they! Islam teaches us to be pleasant, respectful and nice to our fellow Muslims. Our teachers must embody these traits.
Teachers should be paid at least $50 a day. As many of us have experienced, if you rely on "volunteers" you will quickly find yourself disappointed.
Unless your community is awash in money you will need to charge tuition. An average tuition rate for a five week summer school program which operates three times a week is $300 per child. You can adjust this up or down depending on your community's circumstances and you can offer discounts for multiple children.
This is important. Never allow any one single class to have more than 15-20 students in it. If 30 children are registered for the same age level, then have two separate classes of 15 each. If you put too many kids in a class with inexperienced teachers you will experience disaster, wailing, gnashing of teeth, shame, humiliation, pain, grief, etc... in due course. Have I over dramatized this enough for you?