The Summer After Kindergarten: Children’s Experiences by Socioeconomic Characteristics

Posted by U.S. Department of Education on June 11, 2018

Over the summer months, elementary school children may experience a range of activities, including summer camps, family vacations, and home learning activities. Access to summer activities may vary for children from different socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds. In the prior administration of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998–99 (ECLS-K), an analysis found that 20 percent of low-SES students visited an art, science, or discovery museum in summer 1999, compared to 62 percent of high-SES students (Meyer, Princiotta,
and Lanahan 2004). Disparities by SES were also found across other activities examined in the report, including going to a library and visiting historic sites. Another analysis, of children’s time-use during the summer months, found that children from lower-income households watched more television and spent less time talking with parents than children from higher-income households (Gershenson 2013).

In addition to disparities in activities over the summer, children of different SES backgrounds may also have different primary care arrangements. However, information on elementary school children’s care arrangements during the summer months is sparse. Children’s primary care arrangements prior to entering kindergarten highlight differences in arrangements by child and family characteristics (Rathbun and Zhang 2016).

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