By Jenny Bogoni
September will be an exciting and hectic month in Philadelphia. A late Labor Day, Pope Francis' visit, and religious holidays all add up to a very busy month - one that gives the city's school children only 12 days of class time.
City officials and World Meeting of Families' organizers recently announced the "I'll Be There" campaign, urging businesses to stay open and welcome our international guests. We need to expand this idea beyond the business sector to encourage all Philadelphians to be educational advocates for our children - and to "be there" for them during this month.
As Philadelphians, we all need to adapt to the challenges this eventful month will bring. Lack of sufficient class time can have detrimental effects on our children, as September is relied upon as a time for settling back in, establishing classroom norms, building trust, and developing predictable rhythms essential to laying the foundation for a strong academic year.
As an education professional, champion for children, and executive director of READ! by 4th in Philadelphia, I implore those who interact with children at any point in their day to "be there" for our students. Specifically, I ask that we prepare to help as hundreds of thousands of students go back to school during one of the most challenging Septembers in recent history.
How? Join us in our 30 Days of Learning Challenge, and help us keep our students' academic juices flowing not for just 12 days, but every day of the month.
Read to your child every night.
Take nieces, nephews, and cousins to a new landmark in Philadelphia and learn about its origins.
Sing songs or create new ones with the kids in your neighborhood.
Play scrabble, count stop signs, or create a play with your children.
The wackier the learning idea the better. And share your strategies and successes with us on social media by using the hashtag #30DaysofLearning.
READ! by 4th is a citywide effort of 50 organizations - public and private, large and small - that is convened and managed by the Free Library. The goal is to substantially increase the number of students in Philadelphia entering the fourth grade at reading level by 2020.
There is power in numbers. For the vision of READ! by 4th to become reality, we need every sector of this city to get actively engaged in this initiative, and this September gives us all the perfect opportunity to start.
If we want our children to have a strong academic year, we need to turn every neighborhood, every park, every business, and every corner of the city into centers of learning for our students.
Philadelphia is in the international spotlight. Let's show the world how we value education by engaging all of our children in exciting activities during out of school time.
Let's get learning.