In a typical August, APAH’s resident services team would be delivering backpacks full of supplies to residents and preparing to resume our popular children’s programming for the school year. This year, we adapted our traditional programs to support parents and students as the school year starts with remote learning.
To facilitate virtual learning and close the digital divide, Arlington Public Schools is providing electronic devices, iPads and laptops, for all students K-12 and partnering with Comcast Internet Essentials to ensure all students have internet access—but families will still need addition supplies to ensure their students are prepared for virtual learning. Many parents have expressed a need to buy headphones to help multiple children focus on their classes, while others want to ensure their visual learners have plenty of dry erase supplies for math class. Still other families hope to wait to see what this new world of learning looks like, then purchase what their children need.
Because each family has unique needs for successful distance learning, APAH has replaced our annual Backpack Drive. Instead, community members are donating cash – instead of backpacks, crayons, and notebooks – to our new Ready to Learn Fund to support families with gift cards for each student. This allows families to meet their own individual needs – either before the first day of school or as needs are identified through the first few weeks.
A variety of “activity kits” will keep students entertained and engaged while classes aren’t in session.
- Our amazing volunteers created and distributed activity kits with books, coloring supplies, and puzzles to provide novelty and a break from screen time for families. The children were so excited when they saw their new supplies!
- Rosie Riveters is preparing to deliver kits next month to keep STEM programming coming to APAH families. These kits will contain 4 different STEM activities for girls to work through, complete with directions and supplies. The participating girls will also have weekly, virtual check ins with instructors to share all they’ve learned.
- Encore Stage & Studio created kits for students to enjoy movement-based fun. They provided different kits for different ages, including activities for the whole family.
We are so grateful for all our partners and volunteers for making these activities possible.
As we move closer to the fall, APAH is looking for more ways to keep kids engaged and learning in their homes and supporting the different needs families face as this very atypical year and challenging time moves forward.