Keeping children busy during winter break

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Learning loss and regression can happen while students are on winter breaks. But a Kentucky community center continues to serve families by offering free programming so parents don’t have to worry.


What You Need To Know

  • Wesley House Community Services was established in 1903
  • Barbara Carney-Perks serves as the Youth Program Coordinator
  • Carney-Perks is a lifetime teacher
  • She supervises and comes up with curriculum for children during their winter break, summer break and after-school that aligns with Jefferson County Public Schools.

A study from the American Educational Research Association finds children can lose up to 40% of the gains they’ve made during the school year on learning breaks. Wesley House Community Services is just one of many places around Kentucky trying to keep children busy this winter break and avoid that regression. This winter break Barbara Carney-Perks is using pudding and cornstarch to keep nearly 20 children busy.

“Once we are halfway pliable, it should look like this — like play-doh. I’m going to come through with some more cornstarch and we will add some more to it,” said Carney-Perks.

Barbara Carney-Perks helps a young girl with an edible play-doh project at Wesley House. (Spectrum News 1/Diamond Palmer)

Carney-Perks serves as the youth program coordinator at Wesley House in Louisville and leads winter break activities for the Youth Brigade Academy.

Spectrum News 1 first introduced you to Carney-Perks this summer. She was leading the academy and teaching 80 children.

As the kids scoop cornstarch to make edible play-doh, she’s reminded of why she does the job. It’s a position the lifetime teachers have held for a year and this activity is considered fun learning. The program directly incorporates Jefferson County Public Schools’ STEAM learning goals.

“We’re doing math because we have to measure. We’re doing science because we’re taking the two ingredients and measuring them. We’re reaching sensory because they’re playing with the play-doh and then also team effort,” said Carney-Perks.

Each winter break, children with low-income backgrounds can come to Wesley House at no cost to their parents and retain the things they learned during the school year while also learning new things. “Throughout this week we’re going to be making take home things as well. Encouraging them to make them with love because they can give them as gifts to family. We have a field trip planned as well,” said Carney-Perks.

The edible play-doh can be eaten, played with or molded into shapes for three days. By the end of the week, children will even do some yoga and celebrate with a holiday party.

“So again, it’s we’re serving the whole family. True, their children are here but also they’re able to work knowing ‘my child is safe, they’re in a fun environment, they’re learning stuff and they’re staying on task school wise,’” said Carney-Perks .

Carney-Perks knows the children look forward to the activities, but some have no idea how much weight it takes off parents’ shoulders.

Wesley House will continue to serve students after the New Year during their after-school program, Youth Brigade Academy. All information can be found here.

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