According to research by the National Summer Learning Association, summertime poses a real threat to students’ knowledge while they are out of school.
Findings of the research concluded that children from all economic backgrounds experienced deterioration of math skills during summer, but those in lower class families experienced reading and spelling skill loss as well. When children re-enter school in the fall, they are one month behind, and during the first few weeks most educators must reteach students course material from the previous school year.
A main theory to explain the gap between income groups suggests that academic resources for lower income families are gone with the last day of school, whereas the middle-class who have access to their own resources at home, including the Internet.
An abundance of learning materials are available on the Internet, however close to 30 percent of Americans, many of whom live below the poverty line, do not have Internet access in their homes.
Internet Essentials is one initiative that aims to close this digital divide. Spearheaded by Comcast, the program focuses on providing families who have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program with Internet for $9.95 a month.
Families who qualify also have the option to purchase a computer for less than $150 and access to digital literacy training.
Once online, families can access the top educational websites recommended by Parenting.com:
• PBS Kids (pbskids.org) - Find learning games associated with your favorite PBS Kids characters, including Clifford, Curious George, The Cat in the Hat and more.
• National Geographic Kids (kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids) - Keep kids engaged with interactive and educational games, photos, video and information.
• FunBrain (www.funbrain.com) - Math baseball and Mad Libs Junior for kids of all age levels.
• Spatulatta (www.spatulatta.com) - Find kid-friendly cooking tips and recipes with lots of helpful videos.
• NGA Kids (www.nga.gov/kids/kids.htm) - Explore art adventures with help from the National Gallery of Art.
With access to the Internet, these learning materials can be more naturally available to children at home, helping to prevent reading and spelling loss in lower income families.
To learn more about Internet Essentials, visit InternetEssentials.com, or InternetBasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third parties can visit Internet Essentials.com/Partner. Parents looking to enroll students can call 1-855-846-8376, or for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995.