How to Keep Your Child’s Brain Active this Summer
While the typical family is enjoying a casual summer schedule, research shows that the typical student brain is also taking a summer break and forgetting up to 40% of the information learned during the school year. Worse yet, can take up to 6 weeks to get back into the swing of learning once a student returns to school. In the average school year, that can add up to almost 50% learning loss overall, an overwhelming statistic in a make-it-or-break-it educational environment. The good news, however, is that while it’s easy to forget – it’s just as simple to put a plug in the drain and keep that brain active, engaged and learning while still having fun through the summer break.
First and foremost, to have learning success over the summer, students should be kept on a schedule. For example, every morning can begin by making our beds, brushing our teeth, getting dressed and eating breakfast. Afternoons can be left for an abundance of summer activities that will keep kids learning without realizing it! A summer schedule with room for free play and plenty of choices will keep kids learning, having fun, and allow for a smooth transition into the next school year.
But how do we keep up with specific academic skills like reading, math, science and writing?
To keep kids excited about reading over the summer, consider a reading program. Many libraries and elementary schools offer themed programs that offer rewards after the program is complete. The “reward” is a great way to keep kids motivated until they develop an intrinsic love of reading.
Kids should also have plenty of opportunities to read at home. Set out a variety of material from poems to magazines and books that cover a variety of genres in fiction and nonfiction categories. The key here is to give your child a choice and the time to do it. All it takes is 20 to 30 minutes a day to hone in and retain those reading skills.
Journaling is a wonderful way to keep the fun in writing while making memorable summer keepsakes. Drawing and writing about their summer experiences will develop their fine-motor and communication skills while organizing their thoughts – all important academic skills that will carry through all subjects in school.
And what about math and science?
Try a “work-pay” chart instead of an allowance. For making the bed pay a quarter, for the toys in the basement 50 cents. Allocate the funds once a week and you’d be surprised how quickly kids of all ages learn to add money! How about counting how many pairs of eyes are in a room by 2’s, or how many fingers and toes by 5’s. At dinner, you have 5 green beans left, when there’s 0 left you can have dessert! Applying math in these everyday practical ways drive home the fundamentals far better than memorizing flash-cards or adding in a workbook.
Science can be just as fun. Inspire curiosity! How long will it take to freeze a lemonade popsicle (and how many licks does it take to eat it)? What kind of flowers do honeybees like? How does a lightning bug light up? The point in summer science is not to memorize the periodic table or learn the Latin names of your flower garden, but to learn to ask questions and enjoy finding the answers.
Summertime is a wonderful opportunity to show that learning doesn’t have to happen in a classroom and it doesn’t have to involve a test. Learning can and should be fun, and should be a lifelong adventure. With a little planning, a consistent schedule and a little imagination, your children will retain what they’ve learned in the previous year and be leaps ahead in the new one.
Founder and CEO of Young Rembrandts and Author of Being Visual