Connecticut officials encourage families to take advantage of summer enrichment programs aimed at making up for missed classroom time

·2 min read

Kindergarten enrollment rates greatly declined across the state last year due to the pandemic. In response, government and public education officials arranged 36, free-of-cost, early childhood enrichment programs throughout Connecticut this summer to make up for preschool and classroom-like experiences — and there are spots remaining.

The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood partnered with Connecticut’s Family Resource Centers to arrange the programs this summer with $2 million from American Recovery Plan Act funds.

“In Connecticut, and across the country, our youngest learners and their families are preparing a transition to kindergarten in the context of a pandemic,” said Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker of the State Department of Education. “Regardless of the times, entering kindergarten is an important and exciting milestone ... and it sets the stage, really, for their school and, arguably, their life experiences.”

Kindergarten enrollment declined by almost 12%, from 36,566 students in October 2019 to 32,223 students in October 2020; over four thousand children across the state did not attend kindergarten last year, according to the CT Department of Education.

“We wanted those programs to be free because our families and our kids have had so many challenges. They’ve been isolated, they haven’t had the opportunity to interact with their fellow students, their teachers, older children, and mentors,” said Commissioner Beth Bye of the CT Office of Early Childhood. “So, this is really an opportunity for kids to learn, to get prepared for the fall, to catch up, and have fun.”

Governor Ned Lamont took a tour of the Family Resource Center at Charter Oak Academy in West Hartford where one of the enrichment programs, 123 Read With Me, has run for four weeks. The program serves a diverse group of children from the community and featured yoga, gardening, music, and literacy for the children and their families. The Bridge Family Center operated the program with $48,000 from the state grant.

“Of our 30 children attending 123 Read With Me, 11 did not attend school in person at all last year due to the pandemic and many others only returned to school after April vacation,” said Margaret Hann, executive director of The Bridge Family Center. “123 Read With Me is providing them all a very much-needed pre-school experience.”

All programs run for a minimum of three weeks but some have decided to operate throughout the entire summer, according to Rachel Tway-Grant, education consultant at the CT Office of Early Childhood; “So, we let the programs dictate what was best for each program.”

“There’s still time to sign up,” Lamont pointed out. “[There’s] another six weeks to go and get back in the game and get on your feet.”

Lamont encouraged families to learn more about the ongoing programs and enroll their children at

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