School may be out, but the process of educating children shouldn’t come to an end for Valley parents.
That’s why Valley of the Sun United Way is offering parents a comprehensive list of seven ways to preventing the “Summer Slide” — the phenomenon that occurs when children are not participating in educational programming throughout the summer and return to school less equipped to learn and succeed.
“The ‘Summer Slide’ is a serious setback for many children,” said Dawn Gerundo, director of education and children at Valley of the Sun United Way. “It’s estimated that most students lose two months of math and reading skills each summer. Children without access to school lunches and physical education programming also can tend to gain weight, returning to school less healthy and less ready to learn.”
To combat this “Summer Slide,” here are seven ways to keep children academically and physically engaged over the summer months:
- Enroll children in fun summer classes and programs with educational activities. The Valley’s public libraries have a wide variety of activities to promote reading and learning during the summer months. Several local agencies will also host activities for Summer Learning Day on July 13. For tips on how to choose a summer care provider, visit: https://vsuw.org/about-us/blog/blog-entry-9.
- Keep kids active despite the summer heat. YMCA offers everything from fitness programming to childcare and overnight camps for kids across the Valley, all of which encourage teamwork development and physical fitness. ICan offers free youth programming in the East Valley, providing children with a safe place to go, and focusing on youth development, education, healthy lifestyles and job skills.
- Get kids outside when it’s not too hot. For example, the Phoenix Zoo offers children a summer of up-close animal encounters and hands-on-activities as well as art projects, games, nature play, hiking and more.
- Keep kids reading throughout the summer. The Maricopa County Summer Reading Program encourages children to read at least 20 minutes a day and offers weekly prize drawings, challenges and badges for participants. Several other libraries across the Valley also have summer programs for students and kids of all ages. For more information on these programs, visit: https://maricopacountyreads.org/.
- Challenge their minds with fun activities. Valley of the Sun United Way distributes School Readiness Kids across Maricopa County and offers them for sale on their website. They are designed to help children ages 3 to 5 years old prepare for school with 80 different activities. For more information on how to best use these kits, visit: https://vsuw.org/about-us/blog/what-is-a-school-readiness-kit.
- Expose them to culture. Phoenix Public Library and several other cities offer Culture Passes to check out, which allows two people free admission into a variety of Valley destinations, like the Desert Botanical Garden, the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Phoenix Art Museum.
- Ensure children are eating nutritiously. If children aren’t getting enough activity and exercise, obesity can set in. And for those families who are struggling to put food on the table, Summer Meal Locations ensure that children and teens ages 18 and younger who might not otherwise have access to meals over the summer, are able to have access to free meals at locations across the county. For more information on where to find summer meal locations, visit: https://vsuw.org/about-us/blog/putting-summer-meals-on-the-map-for-kids.
Since 1925, Valley of the Sun United Way has been uniting diverse partners and bringing together donors, business supporters, non-profits, government and faith-based communities to build a stronger Valley for us all. To accomplish this, United Way is keenly focused on achieving key Community Objectives, including ensuring children and youth succeed, ending hunger and homelessness, and increasing the financial stability of families. United Way is the largest non-profit investor in health and human service programs in the Valley with the support of nearly 90,000 individual donors, 500 business supporters, and a wide array of volunteers and partners. For more information, visit www.vsuw.org.