Horizons Uses Summers for Academic Gain
The PreK-8 Program utilizes out of school time to close learning gaps, address deficiencies and advance students ahead of where they would otherwise be. Our six-week summer session focuses on reading, writing, math and SEL, using a custom curriculum in each area. Students receive individualized attention in small group settings to maximize impact. The academic support and enrichment experiences provided to students strengthen school performance while building the non-cognitive skills so valuable both in and outside the classroom. In addition, eleven Saturday Academy sessions during the school year provide continued academic support and maintain a strong sense of community between students, families and the program.
- Each student benefits from over 200 hours of academic instruction and enrichment each summer
- Horizons GFA students gain an average of three months in reading and math during the summer while students without access to summer enrichment lose 2-3 months skill, with below grade level students gaining as much as to 4-7 months in reading and math
- All students learn to swim
- 4:1 student-teacher ratio
- 97% attendance rate
- 97% student and 81% faculty retention rate year-to-year, building a unique, close-knit community (five-year averages)
Horizons Builds Literacy
Starting in kindergarten through third grade, students learn to read. By fourth grade, instruction switches and students read to learn. Students who are not proficient readers by fourth grade when the switch from learning to read to reading to learn is made struggle in school, fall behind, and experience low self-esteem due to their lack of success in the classroom. This negative cycle amplifies as the years go by as school gets harder and goes faster. Not surprisingly, research has shown that these students are four times more likely to drop out of high school (Casey Foundation). Further, a disproportionate number of students who are not proficient readers by third grade are from lower income families.
Horizons Builds Social and Emotional Skills
Working closely with the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Horizons GFA co-developed an individualized social emotional learning (SEL) curriculum that presents concepts along an age-appropriate continuum from PreK through 12th grade. These skills allow our students to improve their attitudes about themselves, their relationships, and their education. Students become fluent in SEL ideas such as goal-setting, perseverance, perspective taking, self-regulation, self-reflection, conflict resolution, and empathy. Armed with these skills, our students are improving their educational outcomes, graduate on time from high school, enter and graduate from college, with the motivation and social competency to build a successful career of their choosing.
During the school year, students return to the GFA campus for Saturday Academy. In addition to learning critical writing skills and continuing our focus on literacy, Saturday Academy’s year-round link maintains the connection between students and teachers and is an important factor in our high student retention rates and strength of community.
Swimming and Enrichment
All Horizons students learn to swim. Becoming a proficient swimmer is an important life skill that builds confidence and a desire to achieve. Further, swimming is a skill that many low-income children do not have the opportunity to acquire. Nearly 70% of African American children and 58% of Hispanic children have low or no swimming ability. In predominately minority communities, the youth drowning rate is 2-3 times higher than the national average. Many students that come to Horizons are very fearful of the water. Successfully overcoming this fear builds self-esteem which has a positive effect in the classroom as well.
Enrichment activities are vital to develop skills and interests that increase intelligence and competence in ways academics alone do not. Enrichment at Horizons includes music, science, robotics, the arts, athletics, and field trips. These activities promote higher-level thinking, develop leadership abilities, provide perspective, boost confidence, and raise student aspirations and expectations for their lives.