Schaumburg kids bridge e-learning gap with 'Summer School' for younger siblings

For many preschool students, the break since their last in-person schooling has lasted a significant portion of their very young lives.

But a handful of third- through sixth-graders in Schaumburg's Wyndham Cove neighborhood helped bridge some of the gap for their younger siblings and neighbors this summer by running their own "Summer Fun School" out of an open garage.

For several weeks, the student-crafted curriculum included lessons in reading, writing and music. Gym classes included biking or riding scooters. And it all ended with the presentation of certificates of completion at a graduation ceremony attended by Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 Board of Education President Bob Kaplan, who lives in the neighborhood.

Parent Sarang Kortikar said he marveled at the self-motivation of his 10-year-old daughter Ananya and four of her friends, who recognized the impact COVID-19 isolation was having on the younger children. But they also were aware of safety protocols, he said.

"They knew they had to be very careful," Kortikar said.

Preschool "students" and their elementary school-aged "teachers" participate in one of the garage-based classes of their self-organized "Summer Fun School" in Schaumburg's Wyndham Cove neighborhood. Courtesy of Sarang Kortikar

The "teachers" of the camp spoke to their roles and what the younger kids got out of the experience.

"I oversaw literacy, library and math curriculum in the summer camp," said 9-year-old Shreeya Rane. "It was fun teaching small kids, and all kids loved our program. They followed the instructions and learned while having fun."

"I was very excited about the summer camp," said 11-year-old Abir Palekar. "I am technology geek and problem solver in the camp. I have created a survey for all parents to help finalize the curriculum. I like to help teach small kids and act as a cool teacher."

"I am the co-organizer and leader of the summer camp," said 9-year-old Ritika Potdar. "We started with a very small group, but seeing kids having fun we made a full summer camp, including a graduation party. It was real fun."

"I was very excited regarding the camp as well," said Ananya Kortikar. "I love to organize and teach the kids. I am so glad to see kids get along very well during the summer camp."

Ragna Rajesh said she helped the younger kids learn the alphabet and numbers, and thought the physical activities provided a great outlet for their energy.

"It was fun seeing kids getting along during summer camp," she said. "I had great fun doing gym class with kids."

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