Combining food with summer learning loss

There is a great deal of research on the impact of summer learning loss on high poverty students. Some students spend summers at overnight and day camps, learning new activities, or traveling with their families; and, other students sit in front of the TV, occasionally play outside, and are mostly unsupervised (while the parents work). Not only will the latter group of students need extensive academic remediation in the fall, but finding food on a daily basis in the summer is a challenge for students who normally eat breakfast and lunch at school.

Some school districts open a few school sites during the summer to provide lunch to students every day, and some community organizations pick up the slack by providing lunches to students (see CNN link below). If a district provides a summer school lunch site, how can students learn as soon as they get in the building?

If a school has federal School Improvement Grant dollars, it could create a summer program centered around a school lunch program. Once students get to the building for lunch, keep them there and provide basic activities that provide physical activity, recreation, and learning.

For example, if the kids love soccer — start a soccer club or tournament, have the students watch any of the dozens of world soccer games on tv, have them research their favorite team or player, and have them create performance statistics for the players or teams. (Combining exercise, research, reading, math)

We know that students from persistently low-performing schools are at-risk for extreme summer learning loss, and we know that the majority of students in these schools are eligible (and need) free and reduced price meals. If your school or community provides lunches to students during the summer, find a way to promote learning activities to an already captive audience. Feed their stomachs, provide recreational activities, and stimulate their minds all at the same time.

Read more: Feeding kids when parents, schools can’t, CNN.com

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