With schools closed for months and the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on the normalcy of life, we knew our typical summer learning and enrichment programming would not be the same in summer 2020.
As we spoke to our early childhood CBO partners and to the parents of the students we were following from the previous summer, it became abundantly clear our focus needed to be on supporting the family unit as they heroically tried to manage this unprecedented upheaval in their lives. Never has the inequity of the summer time-frame been so apparent and concerning.
Historically, summer vacation represents significant disparities in opportunities to: learn, grow socially and emotionally, stay safe, stay physically active and healthy, and remain connected to a community. In summer 2020, this reality was exacerbated much earlier and to a greater degree.
It is from this context that the GRSLA Summer 2020 Family Support Initiative (FSI) was developed and implemented. The FSI focused on 130 rising kindergarteners who had participated in summerLEAP the previous summer, and whose PreK year was severely disrupted when the schools closed in March.
As we began our weekly home visits, we found amazing examples of commitment, of deep love and concern for their children, and resourceful ways in which parents were dealing with all of the changes and expectations. We gave voice to this commitment by families in our annual Snapshot publication, in both the many quotes throughout the newsletter as well as the “Front Porch Portraits” capturing the strength and beauty of the families we served.
It was a challenging but fun-filled summer we will not soon forget. We thank the parents who participated, our funders and supporters who provided the resources to make it happen, and the GRSLA/summerLEAP team for their commitment to the families of our community.
IN THE WORDS OF PARENTS
I enjoyed everything! I appreciate the interaction opportunity it gave me with my son . . . he loved that I engaged with him.
My favorite part of the program was getting to do experiments with my children and seeing the look on their faces while learning.
This program was amazing! The level of engagement and learning was great, especially during the COVID summer.
Delivering the summerLEAP learning materials directly to families' homes gave us the opportunity to interface with families from a safe social distance on a weekly basis! Delivery days were highly anticipated and filled with great conversations with families, excitement, and smiles!
SCIENCE AT HOME
During a typical summer, our PreK summerLEAP classrooms feature six engaging science units. We adapted these lessons to an at-home format! This summer's family-friendly Science at Home units included Air, Five Sensess, Light, Magnets & Chemistry, Plants, and Water.
PLAY AT HOME
Unstructured play is how children learn best, and it gives kids and caregivers a chance to decompress during stressful times. Our Play at Home kits featured materials such as bouncy balls, bubbles, bug catchers, chalk, construction paper, crayons, Playdoh, stickers, and more!
Each child received a children's toothbrush, toothpaste, a laminated tooth brushing chart, and exercise and yoga choice boards used during Zoom calls. These curriculum additions encouraged students to engage in physical activity while at home.
2020 By the Numbers
Science at Home kits distributed
Play at Home kits distributed
YouTube videos created
interactive Zoom sessions
miles traveled for home visits
Front Porch Portraits / The Power of Family
2020 Program Partners
Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County
Education Success Foundation
Headwater Food Hub
Perez Sisters Photography
ROC the Future
WXXI Education and Family Engagement / Learning At Home Initiative
2020 Funding Partners
Mr. & Mrs. Joseph C. Briggs
Brighter Days Foundation
Canandaigua National Bank and Trust
Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation
Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
ESL Charitable Foundation
Marion and Harry Fulbright Fund at the Rochester Area Community Foundation
The Hallowell Fund at the Rochester Area Community Foundation
William & Sheila Konar Foundation
M&T Charitable Foundation
Les Knox Family
NYS Upstate Revitalization Initiative/FLREDC
The Pickhardt Family
Rochester Area Community Foundation
Rochester's Child at the Rochester Area Community Foundation
Richard and Vicki Schwartz
Mr. & Mrs. Michael Tomaino
United Way of Greater Rochester
Erik & Judy von Bucher