Combating Summer Learning Loss with Kindergarten Countdown Camps

As we approach the beginning of summer, it’s important to learn how to combat summer learning loss and understand the impact it has on our children's future success.

Over the course of the summer, low-income students lose two to three months’ worth of reading skills compared to their peers from higher income families. These children have fewer books in their home and limited opportunities to travel and experience new things. Without access to free summer learning programs, the chance of low-income students recovering from this disparity is restricted. The National Summer Learning Association describes this trend as “summer learning loss”, which is the phenomenon where young people lose academic skills over the summer. This is one of the most significant causes of the achievement gap between lower and higher income youth. For many young people, the summer “opportunity gap” adds to the gap in achievement, employment and college/career success affecting their future endeavors (“Home”).

To address the summer learning loss, United Way developed Kindergarten Countdown Camp (KCC), an initiative under our Success By 6 Program, designed to bridge the gap for Lake County’s youngest learners.

Here’s how it works:

  • The free camps are open to incoming kindergartners with little to no preschool or classroom setting experience.
  • At KCC, licensed teachers focus on teaching children the basic skills needed for kindergarten, such as knowing their letters, numbers and how to write their name. Children will learn the routine of school, develop new skills, meet new friends and realize they can succeed in a school setting.

This program helps to ease the gap between academic readiness for low-income students and non-low-income students over the summer. The assessments at the end of camp consistently show that these children are now better prepared to enter kindergarten.

The program started in 2015, serving 23 students in Waukegan. This year, thanks to the support of our donors and partners, we offer Kindergarten Countdown Camp in four communities (Beach Park, North Chicago, Round Lake and Waukegan) with plans to reach 120 children. Many thanks to Women United of Lake County for their ongoing support of this program!

We are thrilled that the reputation of this program has spread and principals are now asking United Way to offer KCC in their communities!

KCC will take place at:

  • Green Bay Early Childhood Center (North Chicago)
  • Clearview Elementary (Waukegan)
  • Beach Park Middle School (Beach Park)
  • Pleviak Elementary (Round Lake)

Preventing summer learning loss is a considerable factor in ensuring all Lake County children are on a path to success. We look forward to sharing updates about each Kindergarten Countdown Camp this summer. Stay tuned!

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