This year’s Summer Shuffle program looked unlike any other year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the goal remained the same: preparing local preschoolers from low-income families for Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) classrooms. We’re so grateful we were able to have students learn in person by limiting our class sizes and following the BVSD health and safety protocols.

How the Summer Shuffle program works

Three Boulder Housing Partner (BHP) sites were selected to host a summer class, and each was staffed by a bilingual lead instructor and a bilingual paraeducator who delivered literacy, numeracy, and executive functioning instruction to BHP pre-schoolers and incoming kindergarten students. 

For five weeks, the classes met for two hours each Monday through Thursday, serving 31 children total from three to six years of age. In addition to the curriculum, kids were able to play outside and receive a take-home snack each day. New to the program this year, students were provided with their own copy of a new book each week based on the weekly curriculum theme as well as arts and crafts materials and supplies the families could keep for future use. 

What we learned this year

What’s next for kindergarten readiness

We are working on plans for an expanded summer program in 2022 that will broaden our reach to more pre-K kids and to more communities. If you would like to help prepare our youngest learners for school, please reach out to Darcy to learn more or make a gift.

*The BVSD TS-Gold Kindergarten Readiness Assessment measures literacy/letter recognition, numeracy/number recognition and counting, and executive functioning skills necessary to engage productively and positively in a kindergarten class.

Summer Shuffle Prepares Early Learners for BVSD Classrooms

Many of the children in this year’s Summer Shuffle program are learning in person for the first time. It’s a big change for the kids and a positive start to their preschool or kindergarten experiences this fall. We know that the wide gaps in educational achievement start very early, and our Summer Shuffle program, a partnership with Boulder Housing Partners, offers the critical early interventions that make a huge difference.

Summer Shuffle is a bilingual program that delivers literacy and numeracy instruction to low-income youth living in public housing in Boulder. Approximately 30 preschool age students are spending 20 days of their summer learning important skills such as letter recognition, counting, name-writing and so much more!

What’s different about this summer

The program is smaller this year, primarily to make sure both students and parents were comfortable with their kids learning in person. In addition to the smaller class sizes, masks are required and parents fill out daily health screenings.

“Kids are having so much fun being with other kids and not on the computer,” says Kathy Luna, the lead instructor for the program. “I’m hearing from parents that their kids are waking up early (in the summer!) because they’re so excited to go to school.”

Each week, students focus on a unit, such as insects, trees, buildings, water, and music, that provides a new book, activities, and introduces school supplies. This year, hands-on activities, including art, are what the kids are most interested in. Each student gets to take home a new book each of the five weeks, one of which is written in Spanish, and at the end of the program they get to take home their box of school supplies and a white board.

Getting students ready for classrooms

While the program focuses on building literacy and numeracy skills, our instructors are also preparing students for the classroom by cultivating executive functioning skills and teaching them about healthy behaviors like hand-washing.

“In just two weeks, my daughter has learned how to socialize and talk with other kids. She starts preschool in August and this program has really helped her.” 

The mother of a 2021 Summer Shuffle participant

This element feels extra important this summer considering how many of the kindergarten students have never been in a formal learning environment and would otherwise be walking into a classroom for the first time next month. These preschoolers, who learned remotely last year, are improving at writing their name and reinforcing simple skills such as holding a pencil to write and cutting with scissors.

We’re excited to see these kids learning while having fun with friends and neighbors, and to see kids getting back into the rhythm of school.

Impact on Education is proud to announce changes to our Summer Shuffle Early Childhood Summer Learning Program.  Following public health guidelines, we are evolving from gathering and teaching groups of preschool-aged children at the Boulder Housing Partners (BHP) Community Centers to delivering instructional materials to the doorstep of every 3, 4 and 5 year-old’s home at every BHP site. While we will miss having these young learners join teachers in person, the modified Summer Shuffle allows us to reach twice as many students and families than we typically do! We anticipate delivering over 500 instructional kits this summer!

How we’re adapting

We’re excited to implement such an individualized model during this challenging, instructional time! Each week from June 22-July 23, a bilingual BVSD paraeducator will hand deliver, following established health protocols, an assembled package of theme-driven materials that follow a curriculum developed by our lead teacher, an experienced, bilingual BVSD Early Childhood Education teacher. The bilingual materials will include several books, arts & crafts materials, and printed instructional lessons to guide parents in using those materials. In addition, each week, our Lead Teacher, Ms. Kathy, will offer virtual storytime–in both Spanish and in English–with the books included in the weekly packages. She is also planning on virtual playgroups for parents to check in and visit with her and one another. They’ll have opportunities to ask questions about the instruction or childhood development or education and network with other parents. The program will not only support our youngest BVSD learners but also their parents, guardians, and families.

In past years, the goals of Summer Shuffle have been both academic and social-emotional, and this year’s changes will align with those goals: With full-day kindergarten in Colorado now going into its second year, school readiness has never been more important.  Executive functioning skills such as attentiveness during instruction or storytime and sharing of ideas verbally are vital for kindergarten growth, and understanding basic math and language concepts is similarly important to starting off on the right foot.

Experiences that make a difference

Enrolling in a formal preschool program plays a crucial role in introducing those skills early, when children can start associating learning with fun, so one of our goals each year is to offer a friendly summertime introduction to school that will result in preschool enrollment. As with all of our programs, we’ll measure the impact of our program by collecting surveys, observing progress and collecting input from parents and caregivers.  Additionally, Impact on Education will gather data on preschool enrollment of BHP children at the conclusion of our program.

Even in these uncertain instructional times, all children need to learn and be prepared for school. And we have a responsibility to do all that we can to ensure that the gap in in-person learning doesn’t add to the already wide gap in resources and opportunities that Impact on Education works so hard to address. We’re excited that Summer Shuffle will continue to mean fun in learning, and children in public housing will continue to grow and expand their horizons this summer!

Connect with Us

Subscribe to our e-newsletter

* indicates required

Impact on Education
721 Front Street, Suite A
Louisville, CO 80027

Tax ID #84-0943046