“Yay, No Computer! : »The summer transition program to the first year facilitates the return to in-person learning
Nicolas Valdes, a first grader at Rising Silverbrook Elementary School, wants his teacher to know that his father forgot to do something: install an update on his computer.
Kathryn Desmond, who runs a Silverbrook ES summer program for 14 kids who spent their entire Kindergarten year as virtual students, assures Nicolas that won’t be a problem.
“Don’t worry about it,” Desmond, the Bridge to First Grade instructor at Silverbrook ES at Fairfax Station, tells Nicolas. “We’re not going to worry about computers at all here – we’re going to talk, we’re going to write, we’re going to draw things, we’re going to move our bodies – we’ve all had a lot of computer time this year.
Bridge to First Grade is part of Fairfax County Public Schools’ response to address gaps resulting from learning disruptions related to the pandemic over the past year. It was designed to help students make the transition to in-person learning, helping those who have spent the school year in virtual education, as well as those who may need help building self-regulation and skills. social skills generally acquired in kindergarten.
“Yay! No computer!” Said Emma De Leon, another Desmond student, in response to her summer teacher’s device-less plans.
At Silverbrook, masked students in Bridge to First Grade class revisit typical Kindergarten themes, such as the concept of using tally marks when counting, or say to Desmond words beginning with a given letter: “J is for jumping – or Josiah – – or jaws!
And then they turn to using their hands to learn: design flowers with Unifix cubes in different colors, which help improve fine motor skills that are essential in handwriting, or use manipulation tools like handwriting. “Teddy bear counters” that help visualize numbers in basic math.
There is also time for recess, and physical education games inside the gymnasium to escape the heat, such as “crab soccer” where students try to score goals by crawling on all fours. like a crustacean. Desmond is sure to revisit even things like walking in single file, an academic behavior that is taught and reinforced early in elementary school, but that students who have spent the year learning at home would have missed completely.
On day three of Desmond’s Bridge to First Grade program, she also focused on socio-emotional learning, starting the day by leading her students through an introduction to good manners on the importance of telling you if you please and thank you.
Her morning message, which she encourages the children to read aloud to her and many do without hesitation, prompts her class to think about what it means to be a good friend. Several students eagerly raise their hands to share their take on friendship – but Desmond instead wants them to turn to each other and discuss the concept of friendship with a classmate.
Friendship is about “playing together and sharing your favorite color with your friend,” Zohal Popal tells Emma, sitting next to her.
“ANNNND share your crayons and toys! Emma answers.
Nicolas has something more to add after months of virtual school: “Or meet your friends for the first time!”
Bridge to First Grade, new in 2021, is one of FCPS’s many summer program offerings. Over 36,900 students are enrolled in a range of programs spread throughout the summer, from June 21 to the end of August. Options include Bridge to Kindergarten for students with little preschool experience, Young Scholars – which identifies and develops the academic potential of students from historically underrepresented populations, primary and middle school education programs for students in need of education. ‘additional support in math and reading, teaching English. across grade levels, several programs for special education students and credit recovery options for high school students.
FCPS also offers paid summer enrichment activities in the arts and sciences, technology, mathematics and engineering.