Champaign Freedom Schools

A Day in the CDF Freedom Schools ® Program

As scholars enter the CDF freedom schools site at 8:00 AM, they are greeted and served a nutritious breakfast by caring adults. With stomachs full, they move on to “Harambee!” a time of informal sharing when scholars and staff come together to celebrate themselves and each other.

In the classrooms where servant leader interns facilitate classes of no more than 10 scholars, scholars are engaged in reading and theme-based hands-on activities as outlined in the Integrated Reading Curriculum. Reading is a cornerstone of the program. Servant Leader Interns lead the scholars in reading several multicultural and inclusive children's books throughout the summer. These books feature heroes, heroines, and settings that reflect the scholars’ own cultural images and history. Classroom activities related to the day's reading use a variety of teaching models, including cooperative learning, role playing, and group discussions. These teaching models also include reading aloud, paired reading, creative writing, or visual arts. This range of activities ensures that children with diverse experiences, talents, and levels of confidence in reading and verbal expression are actively engaged.

As the morning draws to a close, Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.) time is announced and shared by everyone. To emphasize the importance and joy of reading, scholars and adults alike “drop everything and read” silently for 15 minutes, choosing from a rich selection of reading material available from the CDF Freedom Schools site library.

At lunchtime the feeling of family and community spirit continues as the scholars join adults to eat a nutritious lunch. Afterward, scholars participate in CDF Freedom Schools Afternoon Activities. These are well-planned music, dance, or other culturally enriching activities that are related to the themes presented in the Integrated Reading Curriculum. Field trips that expand scholars’ horizons may also fill the afternoons. The scholars may also engage in social action projects and rehearse for the summer finale, which is performed for parents, friends, and community leaders.

Once the day is ended for the scholars, CDF Freedom Schools program staff will meet for the Daily Debrief to process the day's activities, discuss the day's successes and challenges, focus on site logistics and planning, and re-energize for tomorrow.

A CDF Freedom Schools finale is a culminating event to a summer full of literacy and culturally enriching experiences. The finale is articulated through visual arts, drama, dance, and song. All components of the CDF Freedom Schools program, “Harambee!”, the integrated reading curriculum, afternoon activities, etc., are combined into a showcase for scholars, parents, and the community as a whole.

Each CDF Freedom Schools site conduct its own finale or programs in the same city may join together to present a city-wide finale. If organizations choose to combine their finale, they should be sure to include all of the scholars in the production. Local staff members are encouraged to be creative in organizing the showcase. Many CDF freedom schools sites utilized their afternoon activities as a way to build up to the finale.

During the finale, scholars should showcase what they have learned each week at the CDF Freedom Schools program site. In a creative way, scholars and staff should demonstrate how they can make a difference, their love of reading, and their positive experiences at the CDF Freedom Schools program. The finale will bring closure to the summer and highlight the scholars who attended the CDF Freedom Schools site.

*Excerpted from CDF Freedom Schools ® 2021 Training Manual (Washington, D.C. 2021), 23.

A Day in the CDF Freedom Schools ® Program
Time Event
8:00 – 8:30 A.M. Breakfast with Scholars and Staff
8:30 – 9:00 A.M. “Harambee!”
9:00 – 10:30 A.M. Integrated Reading Curriculum Reading, Conflict Resolution, Social Action
10:30 – 10:45 A.M. Morning Break
10:45 – 11:45 A.M. Integrated Reading Curriculum (Part 2)
11:45 – 12:00 P.M. D.E.A.R. Time (Drop Everything And Read)
12:00 – 1:00 P.M. Lunch with Scholars
1:00 – 3:00 P.M. Afternoon Activities
3:00 P.M. Dismissal
3:30 P.M. Daily Debrief Meeting (Staff)