The summer is often associated with fun and play, but without the daily curriculum and enrichment activities available during the school year, many children struggle to maintain learning and healthy habits over the summer months. It can be especially difficult for low-income children as they lack access to educational and developmental opportunities as well as basic needs like healthy meals and a safe place to be with adult supervision. As a result, they fall behind in academic performance and face nutritional setbacks – factors which contribute to the growth in the achievement gap and increase the risk of childhood obesity.
First 5 San Diego offers parents and caregivers tips to prevent the “summer slide”, keeping your child’s mind and body healthy and strong for academic success year-round:
- Encourage Healthy Eating – Proper nutrition is important for your child’s ability to fight excessive weight gain. Provide healthy choices to ensure your kids get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables; half your child’s plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables as recommended by USDA’s MyPlate.
- No Sugary Beverages – Eliminate sweetened beverages from your child’s diet and encourage more water and low-fat milk instead.
- Less Screen Time – Limit recreational screen time to two hours or less of television, computer, or mobile device use.
- Exercise – Exercise is essential to help maintain a healthy weight and encourages the brain to work at optimum capacity. Children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
- Practice Reading – Make reading the center of your child’s summer activities. Read together for at least 20 minutes each day. Continuous reading will keep their brains engaged and help them feel enriched, prepared and confident in their literacy skills when they enter preschool and Kindergarten.
Every day, First 5 San Diego helps young children to overcome health and learning gaps by providing free programs and services that ensure children ages 0 through 5 are healthy, loved and nurtured and ready for academic success. First 5 San Diego’s Healthy Development Services helps parents and caregivers support their child’s optimal healthy development and the Quality Preschool Initiative creates high quality, safe and nurturing places for children to learn. First 5 San Diego is also a key partner of the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative, the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank, Reach Out and Read San Diego, and funds structural improvements to help children and families stay healthy and thrive—key components of the Live Well San Diego initiative. For more tips to keep your child healthy and ready for school, visit the First 5 San Diego Parent Portal.