In kindergarten, children from low-income households are typically behind their higher-income classmates – 11 months in math and 13 months in reading. Over time, that gap tends to grow: children who read below a basic level in third grade are nearly six times as likely as proficient readers not to graduate from high school on time. Through a unique partnership between public elementary and nearby private schools, Horizons offers Saturday and summer enrichment programs that build problem-solving skills, self-esteem, and a love of learning. In small classes, (5:1 student/teacher ratio) children delve into math, reading, science, arts, and ... swimming. Reading specialists identify struggling students and work with them individually or in small groups. Learning is both hard work and fun, and that lesson sticks: daily attendance rates are over 90%, and 80% of students return each summer. At Horizons, summer learning loss becomes learning gain.
Horizons successfully pivoted to a virtual summer program. Teachers focused on instruction that strengthened core academic skills while nurturing social and emotional well-being. A "Horizons at Home'' package contained all needed materials, including a tablet or laptop, STEAM kits (KiwiCo Project Crates, Think 3-D kits, or Smithsonian Science Education kits), a hands-on coding project, and art supplies. Virtual field trips, “dryland” training videos from the swim staff, and a weekly speaker series rounded out a highly effective program for kids on whom this crisis is having a disproportionate impact.