School may be out for summer, but the learning hasn’t stopped at Grace Place.

Last week marked the beginning of the 2015 Academy of Leaders Summer Program for rising 1st through 8th graders, and Kindergarten Readiness for rising kindergartners.

Academy of Leaders Summer Program: Elementary

Academy of Leaders elementary age students spent a week at the Community School of Naples (CSN). This is the third year CSN has hosted the first week of summer programming. Reading, Math and Computer Literacy activities were centered on daily themes to better engage the students, and create a fun environment of learning. A highlight of the week was Cowboy Day! With storybooks about the wild frontier, challenging math problems and cowboy hats of their very own to take home, it’s no wonder we still have some cowboys roaming the Grace Place Campus this week.

Academy of Leaders Summer Program: Middle School

Middle School age students had an impactful week at the Holocaust Museum & Education Center of Southwest Florida. Students got to test-drive the Museum’s new exhibition, “Faktor Investigation: Find the Story in the Detailstaking.” Students had to follow clues found in the museum artifacts and documents mapping the life and death of two Holocaust survivors to solve a final mystery! Combined with tablet and smartphone technology, students were able to pull up web pages that were referenced in the exhibit as they sorted through the clues themselves.

It wasn’t only the Grace Place students that seemed to enjoy themselves. “We just try to get them thinking,” Museum Education Assistant Deniece Vella said. “It’s so much fun for me to see when the light bulb comes on. It’s an awesome moment.”After this summer, the documents will become part of a traveling exhibit used in educational settings. Read more about the museum visit in the Naples Daily News.

Other activities in the middle school program have included a trip to Hodges University, where they interacted with other each other and Ms. Molly Grubbs by taking a version of the Myers Briggs test to see where there interests were as they begin to think about their future career.

A visit to Palm Cottage (the oldest house built in Naples (1895) where they toured the house with the help of volunteer docents and Mr. Russell Brand, the Educational Manager for the Naples Historical Society, Inc.  After that they continued to the Naples Pier and had the pleasure of being able to see a dolphin!

They went to Tiger Tail Beach where they are continuing their study of Marine Life.  They are also learning about fishing through the 4-H program, Hooked on Fishing Not Drugs and took a trip to Freedom Park where they were able to test their knowledge first hand.

To top it off, they have been participating in a Water Safety and Instruction course at the Golden Gate Aquatic Center!

Kindergarten Readiness

Our Grace Place team has worked with staff from Florida VPK and Head Start to identify children determined as “not yet ready for kindergarten” for an eight-week Kindergarten Readiness course. The Course is part of our Bright Beginnings program for parent and child and focuses on key kindergarten readiness skills such as writing, letter recognition, beginning sounds, number recognition and counting, shapes and colors, fine motor skills and reading readiness. While these are crucial skills for kindergarten readiness, Grace Place’s summer Kindergarten Readiness program also addresses the importance of social and emotional development – like the ability to self-motivate, exhibit self-control, listen, follow directions and get along with peers.

Our Kindergarten Readiness course, like all of the courses within the Bright Beginnings program, demonstrates recent insights in early childhood intervention. One, that teaching children how to learn can be just as important as the content of what they learn and two, the recognition that children are only part of the equation. By teaching the parent and child together we strive to improve parenting skills and potentially alter home environments, reflecting a more holistic approach to improving children’s opportunities (From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000).