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Public board extends elementary summer learning program

Focus is on early intervention in literacy for students in Grades K – 2, and numeracy for Grades 3 - 5
Classroom students
Up to 1,200 Kindergarten to Grade 5 students will spend three weeks in the classroom in July to boost their literacy and mathematics skills.

The Waterloo Region District School Board will welcome up to 1,200 students this summer as it expands the elementary summer learning program in kindergarten through to Grade 5.

Programs will operate within 12 school sites in Waterloo region, including Manchester Public School and Elgin Street Public School in Cambridge from July 4 to July 22.

Last year, the program included students in Grades K-3 with a focus on literacy and mathematics.

“We had 620 students in the summer learning program last year which represents a 30 per cent increase from 2020 and over double the number of students compared to 2018,” said WRDSB superintendent Jodi Albrecht.  

“We are thrilled with the increase in numbers over the years and in the number of students we have been able to serve.”

At Monday's school board meeting, trustee Cindy Watson praised the board for providing this level of support for students.

“I can appreciate the hard work and dedication in providing these programs. It’s something that we as a board are very proud of, in supporting our students with numeracy and literacy," Watson said.

This year, the focus is on early intervention, specifically on literacy for students in Grades K – 2 and for those in Grades 3 - 5, the major focus will be on numeracy.

Summer remote learning options are for families currently in a remote learning program.

Once again, Albrecht says schools will use an early approach model with a focus on closing gaps and ultimately minimizing the summer learning loss for students who are most vulnerable.

“We continue to use a trauma informed approach ensuring that educators make connections with their students, that they provide a learning environment that is predictable yet flexible,” Albrecht said.  

“Like all of our classrooms, within the summer learning program, there will be large groups, small groups and individual learning opportunities. There will be opportunities for play, exploration, problem solving and enquiry, and with the program we will continue with two educators per class and up to 15 students per class.”

Last year, the summer learning program was remote due to COVID-19 restrictions. Students were provided with synchronous and asynchronous opportunities.

“Last year we made an addition to the program with speech and language supports provided to students, staff and families and that will continue this year,” Albrecht said.  

The school board received feedback from 182 families last year.

“Responses were positive, and many families showed appreciation to educators for smaller class sizes and individual support that students were able to receive,” Albrecht said.

“Speech and language support had an impact and was well-received.”

Multilingual learners and students with special education needs are integrated into the classrooms. Daily speech and language pathologists and communicative disorder supports will also be available.

For students already in a remote learning program, they will receive an individual learning package to support them through the summer learning program remotely.

“The summer learning program models and supports students in regulating their emotions as part of the trauma informed approach,” Albrecht said.

“Educators will delight in their students and make sure that the environment is welcoming and inviting, demonstrate a belief in their students, and celebrate all student’s successes.”