Skip to content
Search this website:

Helping Families Have a Happy, Healthy Summer (and Year Round)

Many K-12 schools are closed in the summer, which can be challenging for families—particularly those facing more obstacles, such as a lack of year-round early childhood education for their younger children. Without the resources provided to students and families during the school year, these families are likely to have an increased need for ideas, support, and food access.

Without the structure of a school or an ECE program, children of all ages may develop unhealthy habits: they may spend more time indoors in front of the TV or computer and may not have access to healthy meals and snacks.

Supporting families with access to resources can encourage them to develop or maintain structure so that children channel their energy into productive, engaging activities that boost their confidence, limit learning loss, and promote healthy habits that can last a lifetime. 

The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) is dedicated to elevating the importance of keeping kids learning, safe, and healthy and ensuring that they are ready to succeed. Families can find resources, programs (virtual and in-person), and activities on the Discover Summer site, based around 2023’s themes of Love of Literacy & Learning, Amazing Art, Wonders of Wellness, Health & Sports, STEM, and Community & Leadership.

Families can download many helpful activity sheets online, with everything from chore charts to earning screen time, and can continue to do so for their younger children at home when their older siblings return to school in the fall.

And don’t forget that libraries have amazing activities year-round, and most have computers and printers where families can download or use online resources either free or at a minimal cost. The Association for Library Service to Children offers summer reading lists for children through 8th Grade. The Urban Libraries Council has also partnered with the NSLA to look beyond traditional library programs to offer activities about doing and reading.

As early childhood educators know, critical pre-literacy skills are developed long before elementary school through play and interactive conversations with families and caregivers at home. Three new early-literacy apps — released for free from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and its Reach Every Reader initiative — are designed for families to use with their children to encourage fun and rewarding interactions, promote dialogue, and give children the foundations they need to read, learn, and thrive.

With the closure of schools for the summer and the closure of school meal programs, more children are at risk of going hungry. According to the USDA, some nine million children are food insecure and lack consistent access to enough food to live an active, healthy life.

Families seeking food assistance for their children can also contact the USDA National Hunger Hotline, operated by Hunger Free America. The hotline can be reached Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) (for English) or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (1-877-842-6273) (for Spanish). They can also text FOOD to 304-304 or enter their address to find free, healthy meals served by organizations in their community on the No Kid Hungry site.

Educators and families want all children to have a wonderful summer, be refreshed, and be ready to learn whether they are returning to grade school or receiving care and education at home.

Stay in touch by subscribing to our newsletter to receive updates and highlights from our Professional Resources blog.

Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning are subsidiaries of Milton Hershey School and will be staffed and operated independently of the Milton Hershey School core model.

Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.