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Is school a struggle? Woodlynde School Summer Camp has the answer

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Woodlynde School
Woodlynde School Courtesy of Woodlynde School

“Woodlynde was built for parents who are thinking to themselves, ‘Why is school such a struggle? There has to be another way.’” Amy Clemons, Head of Woodlynde School, knows firsthand what that’s like. She’s the parent of a Woodlynde alumnus herself, and she often has a tip for parents who are feeling hopeless. “One of the best ways to know if a school is a good fit for your child is to try it out over the summer.”

Woodlynde School Summer Camp, open to K-12 students, offers families a taste of life as a Woodlynde Warrior. “We give students the same individualized attention that we prioritize year-round, using a scaffolded ‘I do. We do. You do.’ approach to learning,” says Clemons. That means that elementary and middle school reading, writing, and math learning groups are kept intentionally small.

The same is true for high schoolers, though their coursework has a different bend. As Clemons puts it: “Our focus in grades 9-12 is on laying the groundwork for secondary success and bridging that gap between high school and college, so we’re covering things like study skills, public speaking, and anxiety management alongside math concepts for college readiness and expository writing.”

At Woodlynde School, if it seems like they’ve got teaching students down to a science, it’s because their ways are rooted in the latest research into differentiated instruction, executive functions, and social-emotional learning. That, and the fact that, as the region’s oldest school for students who learn differently, they’ve been doing this work for nearly half a century. (They’re also one of only a handful of Wilson® Accredited Partner Schools in the country, which explains their success in reaching and teaching students with language-based learning differences like dyslexia.)

Summertime and the camp is Woodlynde

Woodlynde School Summer Camp started as a way for Woodlynde to help their own students avoid the dreaded “summer slide,” when much of the information learned over the last academic year is lost. Soon enough, though, the camp grew to include K-12 students from public, private, and parochial schools across the Delaware Valley.

Teachers stick with their students throughout the day — during summer camp and during the school year — learning their strengths and the areas of improvement. In this way they’re able to tailor content, materials, and methods to both a student’s passions and where they are in their unique learning journey. “At the end of the day, it’s about cultivating confidence in our students,” MaryBeth Spencer, Head of Middle School, says. “When you’re confident in the classroom, you’re confident in life.”

One of the ways Woodlynde’s teachers go about building that confidence is by focusing on “direct instruction,” a technique whereby teachers model a learning outcome and teach in small steps, encouraging practice after each, until students can work independently. “Not only do students learn how to solve a mathematical equation, for example,” Spencer says, “they also learn effective strategies to get to that answer — time management, organizational skills, planning and prioritization, and so on.”

Then, students learn how they learn — both in the classroom and beyond. Whether through the school’s L.E.A.D. Student Life Program or the summer camp’s “Adventurous Afternoons,” Woodlynde prides itself on offering students a wide array of arts, sports, activities (like kayaking and horseback riding), and outings to inspire curiosity and maximize growth. It’s experiential learning at it’s very best.

“When a child is in an environment where they are not only understood, but accepted, that’s where real change happens. Learning stops being a struggle, and students (and their families) can finally take a breath,” says Spencer. “That change in attitude is a noticeable outcome in students after they spend a summer with us or graduate from Woodlynde School.”

When asked plainly, “Why does Woodlynde School Summer Camp work?” Clemons attributes it to the fact that, without sacrificing fun, learning is infused into every moment of the day. Those same students who struggled to get through a school day a few months earlier are changed by the experience, according to Clemons. “They can’t get out of the car quick enough in the morning. The joy on their faces — and in their parents’ eyes — is priceless.”

Woodlynde School Summer Camp runs from June 27, 2022 – July 22, 2022 at their Wayne, PA campus. For more information, visit