Summertime Challenges

by Katelyn Gorski, Communications Assistant, SafePlace
Monday, July 22 2013

Summer can be a trying time for children and families. Crime rates and food insecurity are both higher during these months. More than 21 million kids in the United States get free or reduced-price lunch during the school year. Once school gets out, only 3 million of those kids get a daily free meal and charities and churches struggle to meet the need.

Kids can also lose 2-3 months of grade level equivalency during the summer.  This phenomenon, called summer learning loss, disproportionately impacts children from low-income families who are less likely to be enrolled in enrichment activities.

In the face of all those disheartening statistics, summer learning loss is one challenge that can be addressed right at home. There are many free or low-cost ways to fight the problem and keep kids engaged with learning throughout the year.

Go to the library:

Libraries are great for many reasons. They provide free access to books, host many free events and have computer and Internet access. The Austin Public Library even has a teen book club. Reading challenging books and developing comprehension skills are important to maintaining grade level equivalency. Groups like the book club give teens an opportunity to hone these skills outside of the classroom, work on reading comprehension through discussion and have the chance to make new friends in the process. For info on other free events at the Austin Public Library, visit their website: http://library.austintexas.gov/youth-events

Attend free museums and events:

Museums can help kids cultivate new interests or learn more about a favorite subject. Many museums have free admission times or days.

Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum: Free admission on the first Sunday of every month.

Austin Children’s Museum: Admission by donation on Wednesdays from 5-8PM.

Austin Museum of Art: Free admission to kids under 18 and free for everyone on Tuesdays.

Use screen time wisely:

Educational TV shows, games and apps can help keep kids learning. KLRU, for example, features characters who model learning by asking questions and working together to solve problems. Television and computer time can be learning time, but when kids’ eyes glaze over, it is a sign that they are no longer actively engaged and it is time to turn the devices off. For more tips about smart screen time, head over to the KLRU website:http://www.klru.org/blog/tag/summer-screen-time/

Summer brings many challenges we don’t always think about when that last bell rings, but understanding those demands is the first step toward successfully addressing them in ways that are accessible regardless of income level.

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