For some students, summer break signals the loss of meals, supervision, a sense of security, and a safe haven from potentially high-risk behaviors.

School is almost out for summer, much to the excitement of many students, parents, and teachers. The prospect of winding down after final exams and engaging in summer fun is often viewed as a reward for completing another school year. However, some students see the end of the school year as the beginning of daily hunger, lonely days spent at home while parents or guardians work, and increased risk of falling in with the wrong crowd. Use the following resources to help students for whom summer break is a burden.

Say “No” to Summer Hunger

Summer breakThrough the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), children who are from low-income backgrounds and under the age of 18 are entitled to participate in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), or Summer Meals Program. Finding program locations within the community is simple. Through the SFSP webpage or by calling  the National Hunger Hotline at (866) 3-HUNGRY, students or teachers can find program sites and additional information regarding the program. Discover all the ways this program helps children as USDA Food and Nutrition Service and Boys & Girls Club representatives reveal methods for motivating kids to get out of the house and into the community for a meal during summer.

Cool Summer School

Summer BreakNo child wants to hear the words summer school, nor would most students consider volunteering to attend. To keep children occupied and engaged during summer break, many free or low-cost options exist. Through its YouthSpark program, Microsoft affords technology-education opportunities to children by providing no-cost computer science courses and camps to students. During its YouthSpark Camp, Microsoft holds in-store learning sessions for students interested in computer science. Students can learn the basics of coding and game building while gaining entrepreneurial skills. Microsoft is also promoting the global Hour of Code effort through its Minecraft Hour of Code camp, during which children develop and use elementary coding skills.

Complimentary resources for summer break aren’t limited to large corporations that are able to afford philanthropy. Many local education boards and institutions of higher learning also create programs to keep kids learning and engaged with other students during summer months. The New York City Board of Education’s STEM Summer in the City invites second- to 10th-grade students to apply for its Monday through Thursday program that takes place July 7 to August 11, 2016. In addition to fascinating STEM projects, students are also provided with breakfast, lunch, and Metrocards to access public transportation to the program. The application deadline for this program is May 20, 2016, so don’t hesitate to encourage students to act now! Many options are also available for students in other regions of the country, such as CaliforniaMaryland, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania.

Reaching Out, Lending a Hand

Summer BreakReassure students that summer break is temporary and September’s school year will be in full swing before they know it. Reach out to parents to inquire about ways to help their child this summer, such as providing contact details, arranging regular tutoring sessions, or sharing food bank information. Remind students that libraries are still open, therefore they can utilize resources such as books, events, and computers to access free education sites all summer long.

Summer break doesn’t include relaxing family vacations, exciting pool parties, and community barbecues for every student. Before ending the school year, ask students about their plans and privately – on an individual basis – and engage each student who seems nervous about or disinterested in leaving school so that you can pinpoint ways to make it his or her best summer break!

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