Are you looking forward to more time outside, a vacation or extra time with your family?

We know children have worked hard in school all year and now it’s time to take learning into summer. At the Down East Partnership for Children, one of our goals is effective teaching and learning for children inside and out, 365 days a year.

Did you know that:

Students’ academic achievement usually slows down or declines over the summer.

Nearly all students have experienced some challenges to their mental health during the pandemic, with less access to school supports and other activities.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and hybrid and distance learning models, many children incorporated more screen time into their school day. That’s why it’s more important than ever to reduce the use of screen time the rest of the day.

And most of all it is important to remember that learning is everywhere. Learning is more than classrooms, computers and desks. In fact, any environment that has a child is a learning environment. It’s the park, the library or your back yard.

Here are some things to consider this summer to keep learning fun. Also, check our website (depc.org) or social media channels throughout the summer to get more ideas on fun tips and activities you can do at home.

Take it outside: Add a walk to your daily activity or a scavenger hunt for things you might find in nature. Look up at the stars, listen for fun sounds, bring crayons and paper to make pictures of what you see. Take binoculars to get a closer look. Keep a journal of the things you see and do on your walk. Start a list of places you want to go. Information on local trails is available at https://rockymountnc.gov/trails/ or https://www.traillink.com.

Visit Discovery Park or any local park: Come taste what’s growing in our Discovery Park Garden. Join us for a story time and fruit and vegetable taste test in Discovery Park from 9:30-10:30 a.m. on June 21. Please RSVP with Kelsey at kmabery@depc.org or Brittany at bhicks@depc.org. We are in the process of updating our Places to Play and Grow maps. In the meantime, check out Visit NC Farms app for more outside fun.

Plant a garden or flower and watch them grow: Preschoolers will love digging in the dirt and watching the plants grow. You could grow a salad or fun flowers that grow different heights.

Read every day: Read with your children and listen to them read to you. Encourage reading for 20 minutes a day and ask questions about what they are reading.

Play games: Introduce your children to games you played as a child. Most games that you play inside can be played outside.


Check out your local library: Check out Braswell Memorial Library, Edgecombe County Memorial Library and Nashville’s Harold D. Cooley Library for reading programs, events and story times.

Register for Kindergarten: Help make sure all rising Kindergarteners are registered as soon as possible. Visit DEPC’s web site or call the Family First Line to learn out how to register for kindergarten and if your child will be four by Aug. 31, they may qualify for Pre-K. Spots are filling up fast, so call soon.

Help Support Summer Feeding Programs: Summer can also be a difficult time for families to find healthy meals they can afford. The Summer Feeding, Summer Learning Program offers meals to children in Nash and Edgecombe counties with many sites including summer learning activities as well.

This year, there are three Summer Feeding Kids Meals sponsors: Nash County Public Schools and Edgecombe County Public Schools Nutrition Program and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern N.C.

In addition to providing meals, targeted sites also received resources for summer learning/enrichment and physical activity. Cummins Rocky Mount Engine plant has been a staunch supporter of the Campaign for Grade-level Reading, Twin Counties Read to Rise and summer learning.

This partnership supports an established infrastructure where designated schools, faith-based, and community partners can feed children 18 and under for nutritious meals. All meals will be in person this summer. Children will have sit down meals at schools and community sites.

Summer feeding dates are:

ECPS: June 6-Aug. 11.

NCPS: June 13-June 30 and July 11-July 21 in high schools.

Food Bank of Central and Easter NC: June 13-Aug. 26.

Please visit dep.org to find a summer feeding site near you or visit www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks to find local sites by zip code.

This has been a crazy, hard year for everyone, so let’s have fun this summer and let’s do all we can to keep kids learning anytime, anywhere.

Henrietta Zalkind is the executive director of the Down East Partnership for Children.