The Lost Days of Summer

Lost Days of Summer

Who doesn’t love summer? For millions of kids around the country, it’s a time to have fun and experience new adventures on family vacations, at camp or through locally-organized summer activities. But these experiences are often out of reach for the more than 15 million U.S. children growing up in poverty. Especially those in isolated rural communities such as the small town where Alayshia, 8, lives in Orangeburg County, South Carolina.

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As a result, children from low-income families typically fall two to three months behind in math and reading each summer. Meanwhile, more privileged children keep advancing during those same summer months. Summer learning loss is the biggest reason why children from disadvantaged backgrounds are often three years behind their peers by the time they reach fifth grade¹. Where Alayshia and her brother live, there are no summer programs for them to attend.

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There aren’t many places for them to go either. Sometimes, Alayshia, 8, walks to a nearby friend’s house or her uncle’s. The closest library is tiny and only opens for a few hours on certain days of the week. There is no swimming pool, rec center, or summer camp within reach. “We used to have a little pool,” Alayshia says. “It’s on the trash pile now because it got a hole in it.”

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Alayshia’s mother Novella recently got laid off from the factory where she’s worked on and off for 13 years. After Alayshia eats breakfast and plays video games in the morning, her mom has her and her brother sit down to do some math worksheets and practice reading for half an hour. “I wish there was a summer program for them to go to,” Novella says.

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In neighboring Barnwell County, South Carolina, Ja’Faith wakes up every morning at 5 when her father, a food service manager, returns from letting the milkman into her school. They often read together over breakfast, then Ja’Faith and her brothers play while waiting for the bus to take them to Save the Children’s SummerBoost Camp at their school.

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Ja’Faith, 8, had a tough start in life that her adoptive parents haven’t yet fully explained to her. But they say her early experiences made concentrating in a typical classroom setting challenging. The way SummerBoost Camp mixes games and physical activity with academics has been a big hit with Ja’Faith.

“She loves the program. She hasn’t missed a day,” says her dad, Jack.

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Ja’Faith looks forward to attending SummerBoost each day. “It’s fun,” she says. “I like to learn.”

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At SummerBoost Camp, the day gets started with a call and response game that get the kids excited for a day of learning and fun. Children rotate through blocks of academically-focused activities and games, as well as community service, physical activity and team building.

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The summer program also includes two healthy meals – breakfast and lunch. During the school year, some local kids show up for school hungry on Mondays. For many, the summer months would be especially tough if they couldn’t eat at camp. “They get fed and they stay off the streets,” says Jack. Together with the learning, it’s a winning combination, he says. “Now when school opens up, it’s just a refresher course and they’re ready to go. They didn’t sit around and just watch TV all day or eat popcorn and chips.”

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During the school year, Ja’Faith participates in Save the Children’s after school program, which focuses on helping struggling readers catch up. She has made steady progress through the school year, and her SummerBoost coaches – and her friends – keep her motivated and learning all summer long. That helped Ja’Faith start first grade strong last year and even make the honor role. Her dad says, “I asked Faye a few times ‘What do you want to be? What do you want to do?’ She would always say ‘I want to work for Save the Children, or save a child in some kind of way.’”

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Since SummerBoost runs for six hours, Save the Children can expand its after school focus on literacy and health to cover the “STEAM” subjects – science, technology, engineering, art and math. Here, Ja’Faith and her brother have fun playing a game that helps them practice math equations.

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Back in Orangeburg County, Alayshia and her brother make up their own games in their backyard. When she started second grade at the end of last summer, Alayshia tested as reading at a low first-grade level. Over the course of the school year, Save the Children’s after school program helped her catch up and even reach a third-grade reading level. “She made a whole lot of progress, and I’m proud of her for making that progress,” her mom says. “Now, I’m afraid she might fall off back off and then have to work her way back up to that same progress.”

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With no funding to provide SummerBoost at Alayshia’s school, all that her Save the Children literacy tutors could do at the end of the school year was send home some books with Alayshia and encourage her to keep up her reading. But with no summer program, she also won’t get the extra help she needs in math, which was a big struggle for her this past year. When she returns to school next month, Alayshia will be repeating the second grade.

To learn more about Save the Children’s US Programs, please visit our website

Photo Essay by Susan Warner
Story by Tanya Weinberg

¹Cooper, H., Borman G., & Fairchild, R. (2010). “School Calendars and Academic Achievement.” In J. Meece & J. Eccles (eds.) Handbook on Research on Schools, Schooling, and Human Development (pp. 342-355). 

 

 

No Limits for Preschoolers’ Futures

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 2.41.06 PM    Jeremy Soulliere

    Media & Communications Manager

    Save the Children US

                                    September 11, 2015

In a remote village in northern Vietnam, a young mother named Hang tells me her hopes for her 5-year-old daughter Mai’s future inside her family’s home. Above our heads, hundreds of corn cobs hang to dry – the product of the family’s daily hard work in the terraced agricultural fields surrounding their mountainous hometown in Lao Cai Province.

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Preschool teacher Sung Thi Kim reads to one of her students, Mai, at Mai’s home in a remote farming village in northern Vietnam. Photo by Jeremy Soulliere / Save the Children.

For Mai, her mother wants a future where her daughter has the ability to decide her own path without a ceiling. A path where she may choose to stay in her home village and farm, or where she may go to college in the city and pursue a professional career.

The key for Mai to one day make such a decision is for her to get an early start on learning. And with the help of her preschool teacher, Sung Thi Kim, Mai is getting that chance in a community where nearly 50 percent of the villagers live under the poverty line, nearly 20 percent are illiterate, and many – including Hang – did not get the chance to be educated beyond primary school.

 Ms. Kim, who works at a Save the Children-supported preschool, is the community change maker we are highlighting this month as part of Save the Children’s #UpgradeYourWorld initiative with Microsoft and Windows 10.  You can watch a short video about her here, and read more about Upgrade Your World here.

Save the Children is collaborating with Ms. Kim and her colleagues to develop lesson plans, create learning materials, sharpen their teaching skills and increase support for early learning among parents and the community.

Ms. Kim, 29, told me she is inspired daily watching the children smile, play and learn, and thrives off teaching the kids fundamental skills that will help them succeed in school and in life.

Vietnam has 54 different minority languages, 27 of which do not have a written form, and as an ethnic minority, Ms. Kim understands the language barrier that some of her children have coming into her classroom.

She said she uses her native tongue, Nung, to help children learn Vietnamese, and asks children familiar with Vietnamese and other ethnic languages of the area to help translate for children who do not yet know Vietnamese.

She told me she hopes her students grow up to have rewarding professions and come back and contribute to their home village in some way.

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Mai, a student at a Save the Children-supported preschool in northern Vietnam, sits with her mother Hang and removes kernels from corn her family has harvested. Photo by Jeremy Soulliere / Save the Children.

For Mai — whose native language, like her teacher, is Nung – her family has seen her transform since she’s gone to preschool. Once a shy girl who did not play with her siblings, she now actively interacts with them and is more independent at home, something the family credits to Ms. Kim and the preschool environment.

Mai is a long way from deciding what path in life she wants to take, but with the help of Ms. Kim, she has that early start on learning that will help ensure that decision will have no limit.

 

Kids from around the World Tell Us Why They Love to Read

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

February 14, 2013


From Valentine’s Day to World Read
Aloud Day on March 6, this time of year is all about spreading the love—love of
reading, that is. Teaching our kids to become skilled readers early on is key
to ensuring their success in school and life. This is as true in America as it
is in Nepal, Mali or any other country for that matter. Why? Because education
is one of the most viable pathways out of poverty.

That’s why Save the Children,
through our early childhood education and school-based programs, strives to
help disadvantaged children around the world, including right here in the
United States, develop and grow as readers. The results speak for themselves! In
America alone, 69 percent of participants in our literacy programs showed
significant improvements in overall reading ability and the number of those
reading at or above grade level more than doubled by the end of the school
year.  

Here, some of our once strugglingreaders from
the United States and Nepal tell us how their newfound love of the written word
turned them into young bookworms. 

 

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“I love reading because you can learn many things in a book. You can even learn how to build a hamster home!” –Kori, 7, Point Pleasant, WV

 

 

 

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“When I read, my grades will be better. Being able to read helps you read stories. When you can read, you can become anything you want. I like Nepali stories. My Nepali textbook has many stories and poems. My favorite poem is ‘such a pretty sun, such a pretty shadow, the two play together in the ground.’ I think this poem is very nice.” –Umesh, 3rd grader, Nepal

 

 

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“I love to read because the pictures and stories help me to imagine that I am somewhere else!” –Nevaeh, 7, Landers, CA  

 

 

 

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 “I like to read because there are new adventures all the time. Fiction is my favorite, because you can get inside the adventure.” –Brandon, 11, Lobelville, TN

 

 

 

Anita_Nepal“I think reading will make me smart. My father
brought a book for me from Qatar. The storybook is in two languages, Arabic and
Nepali. It’s about a teacher who teaches Arabic. My father reads the story to
me.” –Anita, 1st grader, Nepal  

 

 

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“The more I read, the faster and better I can read. It helps me to get better grades.” –Orlando, 9, Shaw, MS

 

 

 

 

Bijay_Nepal

 “I
like reading because when I grow up I want to become an engineer or a teacher.
My favorite book is DhungakoKhichadi
(Stone Porridge). I like stories about old men and women.” –Bijay, 3rd grader,
Nepal 

 

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“Because my mama likes to read!” –Kayla, 8, Shaw, MS

 

 

 

 

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“Reading lets me travel to awesome places in my imagination. That’s why I like to read.”—Nyla, 9, Foxworth, MS

 

 

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“Reading is good for your mind.” –Dontavious, 9, Columbia, MS

 

 

 

 

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“I love reading because it takes my mind to a different world.” –Macie, 10, Williston, SC

 

 

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“I love to read because it helps me learn.” –Hayden, 8, Maury City, TN

 


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 “Reading can take you on exciting adventures.” –A.J., 8, Maury City, TN

 

 

 

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“I want to be a veterinarian and reading is helping make my dreams come true! I already work at the zoo and reading has helped give me the knowledge I need to do my job well.” –Dedra, 16, Lobelville, TN (former student in Save the Children’s U.S. school-based program)

 

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“I love reading, because if I read a book and I see the movie, for instance, Harry Potter, I can compare them. They usually leave out details and skip scenes in movies. Books have more details.” –Lauren, 11, Morongo Valley, CA

 

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“I love to read books because it’s the only fun thing I can do.” –Patrick, 10, Morongo Valley, CA

 

 

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“I read because Nana says I got to. It is fun and I learn my ABC’s from books.” –Emilee, 3, Jackson, KY

 

 

 

 

All photos taken by Save the Children staff. 

What if you could not buy food?

DhheadshotDave Hartman, Social Media Specialist

Westport, CT 

May 30, 2012


 This is a translation of a blog post origninally published by Save the Children Spain. Click here to read the original post.

_______________

Imagine you could not buy food.

Although there is food stacked and placed on the shelves of stores, you simply cannot afford to buy it.

Prices have risen so high that the food is unattainable. 

What would you do?

Prices rise, income falls

This is exactly what is happening in parts of Niger, a country where millions of people—especially children–are at risk of malnutrition.

Here, a combination of high food prices (linked to speculation on international markets) and insecurity in neighboring countries means that families can no longer afford to buy what they need. The prices of some goods have reached exorbitant levels, and the majority of parents have seen their incomes plummet.

Many Nigerien families grow food, especially staples such as millet or sorghum, which they ground and mix with water or milk to make mashed grains.

One might think this would solve the inflation problem and reduce reliance on markets; however, last year, a combination of poor rains and crop shortages made families more dependent on buying food when prices were peaking. 

Parents in Niger do everything they can to keep their children alive; many limit themselves to just one meal a day so children get the most food available. Some take their children out of school to help make money and even turn to using animal feed as an additional source of food.

But then, how can we help?

While we're on the ground supporting the emergency, the level of aid is not enough to handle the broad scope of crisis hitting the country. Today, one million children are still at extreme risk of malnutrition across the Sahel where, as in Niger, countries like Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, are facing an imminent food crisis. 

We know that we can do more; Save the Children can help save the lives of more children before it's too late. We also know that there is no way to do so without your help.

BlogNiger

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more.

Keeping the American Dream Alive for Thousands of Children

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

February 15, 2012


Meet Alicia, Jurnie and Savannah, three bright-eyed, all-American girls daydreaming of what they’ll grow up to be some day. Alicia, 11, from New Mexico, is the oldest of the three. She aspires to own a home and a business one day. Jurnie is an 8-year-old from Nevada who loves to care for people and wants to become a nurse when she grows up. Savannah, also 8, lives in Kentucky. She adores animals and dreams of becoming a vet. Living thousands of miles apart, these girls may never cross paths, but their road to success has one detrimental obstacle in common: poverty.

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All three are from dwindling small towns in rural America, where, according to the latest Census report, one child out of four lives below the poverty line. Alicia is from a sleepy, poverty-stricken village, which counts a small convenience store among its only sources of income. Jurnie lives with her grandfather and younger sister in a low-income community of 800 some residents on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And in Savannah’s remote hometown more than a third of the population, including her own family, is poor.

The number of Americans living in poverty jumped to historic highs. Bearing the brunt of this crisis are 16 million kids, the highest number since the War on Poverty began in the early 1960s. This means that more families than ever are scrambling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. For children like Alicia, Jurnie and Savannah, growing up poor in America means having your dreams, however humble, stolen from you.

Like most children living in poverty, the three girls are falling behind educationally. When she started fifth grade, Alicia was reading at the level of a second-grader. Jurnie comes from a financially struggling, unstable home environment and often has to endure long stretches of time without seeing her parents. This lack of stability and support has led to frequently missed school days and poor performance in class. While eager to learn, Savannah scored poorly on reading assessment tests and her school didn’t have the resources to provide her the extra help she needed to work through the challenges and succeed.

Kids who aren't learning and advancing in school are likely to remain in poverty as adults. To protect America’s future and security in the face of historic childhood poverty rates, we must invest in our children. Save the Children works to break the cycle of poverty through education and health programs designed to help kids in some of the poorest parts of the country overcome barriers that stand in the way of their dreams.

We helped Alicia, Jurnie, Savannah and thousands of other children who know all too well what it means to go without. After going through our education support programs, all three are now able to read at grade level and continue to make great strides toward academic and future success.

Learn more about child poverty in the United States and what Save the Children’s school-based programs are doing to help.

Photos courtesy Save the Children

Spread the Love of Reading to Your Grade-Schooler with These Books (ages 9-12)

This is the third post in our “Love to Read” series which highlights fun and educational books that will help your child develop into an avid reader! Be sure to check back later in the week for recommendations for older children.

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

February 2, 2012


This is the third post in our "Love to Read" series which highlights fun and educational books that will help your child develop into an avid reader!

Only about one third of American fourth-graders are proficient in reading, according to the results from Reading_by_level_age_9-12 the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress. Make sure your grade-schooler reads at or above grade level by going to the library together every week. Start by checking out a few of these 10 tried-and-true book selections for your child (but don’t forget to lead by example and take out a novel or two for yourself):

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  • Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
  • The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

Looking for other ways to spread the love? Get your limited-edition Valentine's Day cards and support Save the Children’s education programs in the United States. Learn more about our Love to Read, Read to Live campaign.

Spread the Love of Reading to Your Grade-Schooler with These Books (ages 6-8)

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

January 31, 2012


This is the third post in our "Love to Read" series which highlights fun and educational books that will help your child develop into an avid reader! Be sure to check back later in the week for recommendations for older children.

Reading_by_level_age_6-8Latest findings by the American Educational Research Association reveal that a student who can’t read at grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than his reading-proficient peers. Practice makes perfect, so help keep your child’s reading skills on track through regular reading sessions. Here is a list of 10 recommended books you can enjoy together:

  • Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
  • If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  • Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
  • Dogzilla by Dav Pilkey
  • Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

Looking for other ways to spread the love? Get your limited-edition Valentine's Day cards and support Save the Children’s education programs in the United States. Learn more about our Love to Read, Read to Live campaign

Spread the Love of Reading to Your Preschooler with These Books

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

January 27, 2012


This is the second post in our "Love to Read" series which highlights fun and educational books that will help your child develop into an avid reader! Be sure to check back later in the week for recommendations for older children.

Did you know that less than half of children under 5 Reading_by_level_age_3-5are read to every day by a family member? Ensure your little ones get their daily dose of reading with these 10 expert-recommended book selections:  

  • Best Friends by Charlotte Labaronne
  • How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
  • Mine! Mine! Mine! by Shelly Becker
  • Sharing How Kindness Grows by Fran Shaw
  • Sunshine & Storm by Elisabeth Jones
  • I Accept You as You Are! by David Parker
  • The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
  • I’m in Charge of Me! by David Parker
  • I Love it When You Smile by Sam McBratney
  • I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas

Looking for other ways to spread the love? Get your limited-edition Valentine's Day cards and support Save the Children’s education programs in the United States. Learn more about our Love to Read, Read to Live campaign. 

Spread the Love of Reading to Your Toddler with These Books

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

January 25, 2012

This is the first post in our "Love to Read" series which highlights fun and educational books that will help your child develop into an avid reader! Be sure to check back later in the week for recommendations for older children.

Reading to your children can start soon after birth. The simple act of reading aloud as you flip through picture books with your infant or toddler is a shared activity that not only helps create a closer bond between you, but also boosts your child’s language and cognitive development. Get your newborn bundles of joy off to an early reading start with these 10 picks:

  • Mine! A Backpack Baby Story by Miriam Cohen
  • Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
  • I Went Walking by Sue Williams 
  • Flower Garden by Eve Bunting
  • Sail Away by Donald Crews
  • Nuts to You! By Lois Ehlert 
  • Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
  • All Fall Down by Helen Oxenbury
  • Pots and Pans by Anne Rockwell
  • Jungle Walk by Nancy Tafuri

Looking for other ways to spread the love? Get your limited-edition Valentine's Day cards and support Save the Children’s education programs in the United States. Learn more about our Love to Read, Read to Live campaign.