For low-income kids, summer learning opportunities are hard to find
It’s the first day of summer vacation for students in Seattle Public Schools.
For a lot of people, "summer" is synonymous with "fun." But the season can take a toll on low-income families, who often rely on schools’ free or low-cost breakfast and lunch. And David Beard, Policy and Advocacy Director for School's Out Washington, says without summer learning opportunities, kids can forget a lot of what they’ve learned over the school year.
"If they’re not either getting to go to museums, or they’re not reading, or they’re not participating in some of these amazing science and technology camps that are out there, they’re not keeping pace with their peers. And they’re not utilizing their brains in such a way that they can go back to school in September where they left off in June," said Beard.
School's Out Washington works to increase the chances for kids to keep learning in summers, after school and on the weekends.
"But the options are limited," Beard said, especially for families who don't sign up long in advance of summer break.
There are low-cost day camps and classes for kids through the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA and smaller community organization. More expensive programs usually offer some scholarships. But Beard says there isn't enough room for every kid who needs an affordable option.
Still, Beard said, things are improving.
"The prospect, I think, is better in that policy-makers and K-12 leaders are starting to understand the impact that summer learning loss has on kids," Beard said.
For families that can't find full-day options, Seattle Public Library branches still have space in summer classes and events for kids of all ages.
As far as summer meals go, community centers, schools, churches and non-profits throughout the region offer free breakfasts, lunches and snacks all summer long.