I just spent a day with the Wisconsin grandkids. The seven-year-old had “Playground Adventures” in the morning. The five-year-old petted a dog in “Safety Town,” a program developed by the city’s police, fire and rec departments. Both girls had swim lessons in the afternoon.
Their mom had posted a list of summer activities, including visits to parks and beaches, catching fireflies, building “fairy houses” in the backyard and a lot more.
Summer widens the enrichment gap, writes Mike Petrilli. Some kids do “sports, summer camps, piano lessons, and trips to the zoo,” while others watch TV and play video games.
Educated, affluent parents are spending more on their children’s activities and scheduling — sometimes overscheduling — their time. Low-income and working-class parents give kids more freedom, but “less intellectual stimulation, social development, and basic safety,” he writes.
It’s not clear how to boost summer learning opportunities for less-advantaged kids, Petrilli concedes.
One option is boosting federal funding for after-school and summer programs.
Petrilli likes “enrichment savings accounts.” Parents would get “the equivalent of a debit card to be used for sports, art, summer camps, Girl Scouts, and all the rest.”