from Public Policy Committee ~
Maine Department of Education’s (DOE’s) Early Learning Team has provided the following resource material for school systems in Maine. FCCAM Public Policy is passing along this information as we want providers to be aware of this program, resources and partnership opportunities. We encourages providers serving children Pre-K and up to reach out to the principals of schools they serve as a community partner.
Recently Maine school administrative units were made aware of funding through the American Rescue Plan (ARP). This funding will provide support for expanding summer learning and positive transitions for early elementary students, including incoming Kindergarten students who may not have attended pre-k this past year. The Maine Department of Education’s (DOE’s) Early Learning Team has crafted this guidance document to offer ideas for schools to promote summer learning opportunities for their youngest learners.
When planning for summer learning opportunities, keep in mind that not only have many students lost time in the educational space, but their opportunities to engage in positive interactions with other adults and peers, to practice sharing materials, to learn through integrated play, and to build social and emotional skills may have been impacted. The ideas listed below are meant to focus on these developmental areas in an effort to build and sustain individual student growth.
Summer is a wonderful time to promote learning opportunities and to begin building relationships with incoming students. Reach out to community partners, such as childcare providers, summer recreation programs, where young children are likely to be found during the summer months. Share these ideas and brainstorm ways in which you can collaborate to keep young learners engaged and building strong relationships. As you engage in any of the strategies below or other learning opportunities, remember to provide information to families in ways they can easily understand and access. Utilize interpreters and translation services as needed to support accessibility of information.
Summer learning opportunities and transition strategies:
- Offer virtual welcome sessions to all families of incoming Pre-K and early elementary students
- Utilize intake strategies like questionnaires or conversations to ask families about children’s experiences, strengths, and needs. This can include the McKinney-Vento screener, Migrant Education School Survey, and Language Use Survey.
- Offer play & learn groups–adhering to physical distancing guidelines and other safety guidelines, open spaces in your school or plan to meet outdoors in a public space.
- Host library story hours–utilize your school library or contact your local library for a schedule of events. Include diverse books that allow students to see themselves as well as learn about others.
- Share a calendar of engaging daily activities–create and share a calendar that has an activity or goal listed each day, (e.g. no screen time today or find a new spot outdoors to read/color/create etc.).
- Schedule principal/staff visits to childcares/rec programs/summer camps to meet and interact with students.
- Offer/encourage nature-based/outdoor learning & play opportunities:
- Offer school-based summer learning camp experiences that offer opportunity for interaction and engagement. These could be planned collaboratively with community partners.
- Create thematic learning kits and share them among public and private programs in your community..
- Create welcome kits/backpacks that contain engaging materials for incoming students.
- Offer social hours with popsicles or summer treats for students and families/caregivers to meet.
- Create activities for families and students to engage in at meal sites throughout your community.
- Offer dinner events for families focused on early learning activities. Consider picking families up to practice a bus run.
- Set up community organization fairs, including culturally based organizations. Combine these with classroom visits or playground and art activities.
- Work with your McKinney-Vento liaison and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Specialist to plan outreach opportunities for families with diverse needs.
More than likely, your school uses other creative and innovative ideas to support summer learning opportunities in your communities. We’d love to hear them! Please reach out to our Early Childhood Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org, to offer additional feedback or to ask questions about this guidance and how to support young students over the summer months.