STOP Summer Brain Drain
It’s the end of the school year and kids are bursting out of school doors ready for the lazy days of summer. For right brain kids summer break is especially significant because many of them have spent the school year feeling stifled, misunderstood and not good enough. For them ‘no school’ means it’s time to play. It means – no homework – no boundaries- no schedules – no reading or writing assignments.
And let’s face it – us parents are pretty excited about getting a homework break too.
But danger lurks. If summer days are consistently lazy – a significant amount of what went into building your child’s brain during the school year will start to leak out. Summer brain drain can amount to a significant learning loss, as much as 2 ½ months per student, with the biggest losses in math and reading. Consistent summer losses can cause a child to be 2 years behind their peers by 6th grade. By 9th grade, summer losses are considered responsible for 2/3 of the achievement gap. When kids head back to the classroom in the fall, teachers spend valuable teaching time, anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks, re-teaching what was lost over the summer.
Now let’s consider our visual kids. Many of them have already been struggling in school and can’t afford any leaks. They’ve been taught and tested in left-brain school systems and are desperate for a break, while still needing to shore up what they’ve learned during the year. The good news for these kids – and all kids- is that summer learning is way different than what happens in the classroom. And it should be.
So how do we make the most of summer? How do we plug the drain and make gains, especially for our right brain visual kids? The key is to make learning hands on, make it visual, add lots of art and time to create and above all – make it FUN. There are tons of great ideas out there and we’ve been busy gathering the best and brightest ideas for you and your visual learner.
But before we get started sharing the ideas, here are some things to keep in mind:
Make a plan –
As much as we want to escape the tyranny of the schedule in summer, taking time to organize a plan will make things easier on everybody. And as much as your kids may think they don’t want to be tied down – they need structure in their day. Start the day making beds and doing chores, then set aside some time for the fun structured learning, like reading, time doing math, journal writing or Young Rembrandts classes. Save the afternoons for the swimming pool, play time with friends or watching movies. Keeping a healthy balance between structure and free time is a big part of plugging the brain drain.
Do what you do –
There’s lots of great learning in what’s already on your summer schedule. If you’re headed to museums, the kids are going to camp or there’s lots of time for neighborhood play – there’s learning everywhere. With a bit of preplanning you can bump it up! If you’re going on a vacation or road trip, have the kids do some online research before the trip. They can help plan excursions, create travel logs, write in journals and draw what they see along the way.
Math, Reading & Writing –
As much as we all want a break, especially our visual kids, these are important subjects and success here means success in almost every other subject. But let’s spice things up a bit for summer. Let’s make it fun, artsy, natural and inviting. Math is all around us, so look for opportunities for kids to use the math they learned in every day activities, along with some time spent on a math app everyday. Keep them reading with library reading programs that include games and incentives. Listen to audio books. Read anything and everything. Writing doesn’t have to be all about letters and words. Draw, color, write. Illustrate books, write letters, do book reviews, make comic books, just keep that pencil moving!
Creativity & Art –
There’s never enough art and creativity happening during the school day – so this summer be sure your visual kids get loads and loads of creative activity. Enroll them in classes. Art class. Dance class. Music lessons. Sign up for things they know they like but summer is a great time stretch and try new things. Creativity is a mindset. It’s a muscle that needs to be used and developed. Be sure there are lots of things on hand to make art and lots of opportunities for your kids to let their imaginations run wild.
The key to keeping the drain plugged without making it a chore is keeping it FUN! It doesn’t have to take up more than a few minutes per day and summer provides unique opportunities for hands-on learning. We have been sorting through lists and searching everywhere for the best ideas so you can enjoy your break too. Check back frequently throughout the summer to see what new suggestions we have for you.