ELC of Manatee County Launches "Summer of Discovery" with MarcoPolo

May 17, 2024

Little girl wearing glasses looking up at sun and smiling.

MarcoPolo Learning was recently highlighted in NEXTGEN Family Magazine, a publication of the Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County, for helping address summer slide with its Transition to Kindergarten and beyond program.

Check out the Summer 2024 issue here, or read the full article below.

As the sun rises higher in the sky and the days grow longer, the anticipation of summer fun fills the air. For many children, summer is a time of endless play and exploration. Still, for educators and families, it can also bring unease due to the notorious "summer slide" – the loss of academic skills that can occur during the break from school.

According to information on the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading website, 100 years of research have proven that students undergo an average of more than two months of learning loss in reading during the summer when they are out of school and not engaged in some type of educational activity. This academic slide is costly in terms of funding for the school system as well as in the achievement of students. In some cases, overcoming the learning lost during the summer is insurmountable, and the achievement gap between these students and their peers widens further, lowering their chances of reading at grade level.

To combat the summer slide, the Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County (ELC) encourages families to engage their children in summer learning activities that strengthen or practice skills learned during the academic year. Summer learning should be enjoyable and absolutely can be, especially if it is filled with opportunities for hands-on exploration, interest-based learning, and those experiences rooted in play to continue social and executive skills outside the classroom.

To help support a Summer of Discovery, the ELC recently hosted a Transition to Kindergarten Breakfast in partnership with other members of the Early Learning Taskforce on Saturday, March 16. The event brought together pre-K and kindergarten teachers along with key stakeholders to celebrate early learning and investigate strategies for a smooth transition from pre-K to kindergarten.

The event was a resounding success, with a diverse array of speakers offering valuable insights and practical strategies. Beth Duda from the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading highlighted the value of summer learning and addressed the impact of the summer slide. Susan Gilbert, Head Start Deputy Director, shared practical strategies for family engagement, emphasizing the importance of involving families in their children's educational journey. Dr. Nermeen Dashoush, Chief Learning Officer at MarcoPolo Learning and Professor of Early Education, discussed the importance of building executive functioning skills in young children and how these skills contribute to a positive transition to kindergarten. Executive functioning skills encompass a range of mental processes that enable children to focus attention, control impulses, and regulate behavior. These skills are crucial for success in school and beyond, as they help children manage their emotions, organize their thoughts, and plan and execute tasks effectively. Dr. Sheila Halpin, Director of Early Learning from the School District, shared valuable community resources. 

One of the event's highlights was the announcement of an innovative initiative to prevent summer slide and support kindergarten readiness. Each pre-K classroom in attendance was offered MarcoPolo Transition to Kindergarten and Beyond Gift cards for their families to use over the summer. This initiative, funded by the ELC, is part of an ongoing exploration of activities that can make a difference in kindergarten readiness.

MarcoPolo Learning is renowned for its excellence in creating high-quality digital educational solutions for early childhood education. Their new program, MarcoPolo World School - Transition to Kindergarten and Beyond, is a comprehensive, 12-month program designed to support foundational skills in literacy, mathematics, and emotional development while building vocabulary and content knowledge.

The program offers a blend of daily online and offline activities, delivered through video-based instructions, to guide children's learning journey in manageable ways. Each week, a live-action teacher provides a guided skills-targeted lesson that supports the monthly theme, complemented by offline activity packs and a calendar to track progress. Available in English and Spanish, the program also includes unique features such as MarcoPolo Let's Talk®, which fosters healthy conversations between caregivers and children.

"Transitioning from pre-kindergarten to kindergarten marks a significant milestone in a child's journey, requiring intentional support and compassion from all involved stakeholders. Here in Manatee County, we hold this transition in high regard, ensuring it's guided with utmost care and dedication. As part of this year's transition to kindergarten initiatives, we're thrilled to introduce MarcoPolo's Transition to Kindergarten and Beyond Access Cards," said Darrell King, CEO of the ELC.

"As a digital component, MarcoPolo World School – Transition to Kindergarten and Beyond tackles the challenge we were hearing from educators and families of maintaining the learning momentum over the summer. This program is designed to engage children in content for 10 minutes daily to provide continued support to reinforce and strengthen learning going into their kindergarten year," said Dr. Nermeen Dashoush, Chief Learning Officer with MarcoPolo Learning.

Families in Manatee County are invited to engage with their children to create a Summer of Discovery. Manatee County is full of family-friendly learning opportunities, whether it be at one of the history museums, through MarcoPolo learning, along the Bradenton Riverwalk, at a summer camp, during a free Soar in 4 family program, or by getting involved in one of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Summer Learning programs there is so much to do in Manatee County!

Want to help your students prepare for success in kindergarten? Enter your email to learn about Transition to Kindergarten and Beyond!