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For many students, the number one question they get after returning to school is: “What did you do this summer?”

Some students share stories of their action-packed family adventures, laid-back summer retreats, or opportunities spending time with family and friends. Others recount stories of a summer infused with academic explorations and virtual learning. At least, that’s the story for many participants in K12’s Strong Start Summer Fun program.

The program, which kicked off in July, exposes newly enrolled and returning K12-powered students to their online school community before the school year even starts. It includes fun and engaging course content for students across all grade levels.

For newly enrolled students, the Strong Start program helps create a smooth transition into the world of online learning. Students can familiarize themselves with the platform prior to the start of the school year, giving them a better chance at navigating the online system. 

“By introducing the students to the resources their school has to offer, it builds a sense of excitement as they return to school,” said Elena Tatarov, Senior Program Manager of School Services.

Tatarov added that the program’s mission is clear: to address the impact of “summer slide,” and also lower the no-show rate in schools and reduce the likelihood of student disengagement.

Recent studies from the Brookings Institution found that “on average, students’ achievement scores declined over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning.”

This data shows how important it is for parents to consider how productive of a summer their student is having. Something as simple as devoting some time each day to catching up on material learned throughout the school year puts them ahead of the class and reinforces the skills they’ve already learned, experts say.

So, the introduction of the Strong Start program this year comes at an important time.

What’s capturing the attention of so many students and parents is that this optional summer enrichment combines interactive, virtual challenges and games with learning.

“We wanted the challenges to engage, educate, and give our students opportunities to make something,” said Kristin Morrison, VP of Design and User Experience. “For example, one of the challenges is creating a vision board. It’s the combination of these elements that makes summer fun!”

K12’s product development team created multiple courses for this summer’s initiative:

  • The Summer Strong Start Course – Stride Math and Stride English Language Arts (ELA) games is available to students in kindergarten to sixth grade. Students have the opportunity to participate in Stride Math and Stride ELA games, like Space Coaster, Koofu’s Quest, and Stride Academy.
  • The Summer Reading Challenge is for those in kindergarten to fifth grade. Students are given access to K12’s Digital Literacy Solutions, using the Big Universe Digital Library platform, which includes a wide collection of 15,000 books to choose from.
  • For those in grades 6-12, the Summer Strong Start Courses presents students with challenges that foster creativity and healthy habits for their overall well-being. Students can also engage in discussion board conversations, which allows them to share what they’ve learned.
  • Strong Start Inspiration was designed to inspire students through videos of people sharing stories of how they got to where they are today.

This summer’s initiative saw a significant number of participants signing in each day to engage in challenges and interact with each other through discussion boards. The program received positive feedback and reviews from both parents and students alike.

One mother commented, “What a great idea! I’ve never seenmy sonso excited about school. It’s a much needed change. We appreciate it.”

Moving forward, the program expects to see a growth in participation. In addition, more virtual games and challenges will be added to spark innovation in many young minds.

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