By: Amber O’Connor, Program Coordinator
Last week, our team stood up to summer slide by volunteering at the Zach Johnson Foundation‘s Kids on Course University (KCU). Based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, “Kids on Course provides tutoring, enrichment, parent engagement strategies and health supports to put students on course to graduate college. Each child reaches his or her academic and individual potential through creative and inventive opportunities that connect students and families to the community, school, and higher learning.” Kids on Course University is a free seven-week summer camp that focuses on growing reading and math skills in a fun environment. The Zach Johnson Foundation started Kids on Course in two schools in Cedar Rapids as a school-year program and expanded the reach to include the summertime to decrease the summer slide. Since its launch, the program has grown from 60 students to over 850 students from 15 different schools.
Our team volunteered during Take a Splash week and team members Jim Larimore and Melissa Murer Corrigan took on the role of assisting kids cut out fins for their decoupage sea life. In between group rotations, team members spent time reading to the kids, including the book, Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems. Lori Swartendruber and I helped students with the messy, yet fun, job of making homemade bouncy balls. We helped student mix up the right amount of glue, cornstarch, water, and Borax in a cup until it was ready to be rolled into a smooth ball. This interactive learning activity was a great way to engage with the kids and learn a thing or two about making homemade bouncy balls. In the end, we were all successful in the project and bagged up the creations to take home.
It’s experiences like this that help reinforce the important work of programs like Kids on Course to keep kids engaged and enthusiastic about learning during the summer. “In the summer of 2016, 624 students attended Kids on Course University and 89% of those students reduced, eliminated, or reversed the summer learning slide in reading when they got back to school! The average growth was one and a half months of reading skills, where many students often lose up to three months during the summer. And 78% of students who attended KCU in 2016 saw their math skills increase on testing.” Learn more about Kids on Course’s results here.
We were thrilled to spend our time with these amazing and inspiring kids last week and look forward to supporting their continued success.