Summer learning loss – which is what happens when school’s out and young minds sit idle -- accounts for two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading between low-income children and their middle-income peers by ninth grade. The good news is that we can close the gap and help students stay on track even when they are out of school. It’s as simple as making sure kids have access to books and enriching activities, a caring adult to help them improve their reading and math skills, and good nutrition to help focus the mind. Here’s what you can do to help kids combat summer learning loss:
- Volunteer to distribute meals and read with kids at summer food sites. In Cocoa, FL, United Way of Brevard County’s Feed and Read Program provides nutrition, mentoring, and free books to low income children during the summer school break. Each child can read one-on-one with an adult and in a group, and receives weekly back-pack meals and age-appropriate books to keep in their personal library. Efforts like these depend on volunteers: about 80 reading volunteers will help out in Brevard County this summer, plus about 40 more that help run book drives and inspect and sort books. Some of the food packing events have up to 250 volunteers.
- Expand digital access to books. United Way of Brevard County also helped bring myON, a digital reading platform, to all Brevard public elementary school students, providing each child with access to more than 5,000 free books with read aloud, dictionary, Spanish/English translation and other instructional techniques. Learn more about myON and explore what options are available at your local library or school.
- Enroll a child in a summer reading contest. Most libraries have a free summer reading program with prizes and rewards for children who read throughout the summer.
- Donate toys, books, puzzles and board games to libraries and out of school programs.
- Tell Congress to protect funding for summer school and after school programs.
- Spread the word about summer learning loss. Share these tips for creating or finding enriching summer learning opportunities.
Maintaining and sharpening reading and math skills in the summer months is one of the best things we can do to help all children grow and thrive. Contact your local United Way to find out how to volunteer to help keep kids on track to be successful in school and in life.