3 Major Challenges

3 Major Challenges School Children of Low-income Households Experience During Holiday Breaks


Winter break should be a joyful time for all children, but for low-income households, it can be a challenging few weeks without the support and structure school provides. Here are three major challenges for children in low-income households to be mindful of during the holidays.



1) Insufficient Access to Nutritious Meals

According to the NCCP, 41% of all school children are in low-income households. Families of this demographic rely on the breakfasts, lunches, and afterschool care snacks that school provides children. Not having access to these services increases food insecurity and forces low-income households to use cheap meal alternatives such as fast food, or worse, means caregivers are unable to provide consistent meals for their children.


2) Lack of Childcare

In addition to providing an engaging education, schools provide a social structure and enriching environment where children are safely cared for each week. During winter break, however, these services are not available. According to the same NCCP study, low-income peaks at 69% among single-parent or guardian homes. The environments of children in low-income, single-parent households might lack opportunities for positive interactions with adults and other children their own age during times when parents are working. Private daycare services are often a costly option, which means many children are left alone.


3) No Educational Activities

During school breaks, the lack of affordable childcare and the achievement gap collide for lower-income families. Learning doesn’t come solely through textbooks and testing, but in a significant way, through relationship building, interactive games, and classroom activities. Whereas higher-income households may have opportunities for children to be involved in camps, learning programs, or childcare centers, low-income households miss out on these resources during extended breaks, with noticeable declines happening in math and reading that are challenging to regain.


What can you do to help?

As a school counselor, educator, or parent, take a look at our store and consider gifting a few educational books or classroom activities to the children of low-income households and local support agencies.

Awareness is important, and some school systems have already taken action to overcome these three major challenges. During winter and summer break, more schools across the county are now making nutritious meals available to families navigating food insecurity. In some areas, schools are also providing childcare during the breaks in centralized schools throughout their districts. There is positive growth happening in these areas, but there is far more demand than private, state, and federal grants can fund.

Check with your local school or school system to see if these services are in place for the children that need them most. If not, see how you can help get them started!