Studies have shown that students can lose one to two months of knowledge over the summer. In addition, teachers typically spend the first several weeks of school re-teaching material to students. Thus, the term seasonal brain drain emerged to describe what typically occurs to a child’s mind over summer break.
Below are some ideas on how to stimulate a mind, combat seasonal brain drain and enjoy summer break:
- Visit your local library.
Perfect place to visit on a rainy day! I intend to head to the library once a week, preferably on the day that they’re calling for rain. Look for books that interest your child. For example, my son loves baseball so he has a book about baseball readily available.
- Visit local resources.
Take your child on fun adventures in your community. Field trips strengthen vocabulary. Visiting a zoo, aquarium or museum enhances vocabulary by exposing a child to new words in a fun and enjoyable way. I am fortunate that I live outside Washington D.C. and the zoo and museums are free. Of course, getting there is not and often quite an adventure!
- Use internet.
Select sites that your school district recommends. Use parent-approved internet sites, to let your child explore topics of interest or play math and reading games. Another great idea is to plan a real or imaginary trip. Using both a map and internet sites, e.g. map quest, Google maps, create an itinerary. Perhaps take it to the next level and begin saving for this trip.
- Use communication.
Sometimes we fill our schedules with countless activities that the traditional table talk that occurs at dinner time, is replaced with a meal to go and rushing out the door – I am certainly guilty of this. Take the time to talk with your child about what they are doing and learning. We walk to camp which provides me with the perfect opportunity to talk to my children. Encourage your child to perform written communication, e.g., keep a journal, send a letter or email to a friend or relative. Tell stories to your child and encourage your child to tell of his adventures or special events in the form of a story.
- Use Numbers.
Encourage your child to perform mental math – that’s right in her head so no fingers or toes. Make quick calculations when purchasing food from the snack bar, ice cream man or local lemonade stand. Practice fractions and measuring by making strawberry shortcake. On a rainy day, play board games. My son loves to play monopoly which is the perfect game to reinforce money. The goal is to keep it fun while keeping math skills from getting rusty over the summer.
- Be Healthy.
Set a good example for your child – keep both your body and mind active. Children should be active for 60 minutes a day. Walking, swimming and riding a bike are some fun activities to do in the summer. When school is in session, schedules tend to be more regimented. In the summer, bedtimes seem to get later and later. Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep. Many children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep. Finally, eat nourishing foods. Vacation and overeating seem to go hand in hand for me. Try and keep a balance – so eat the boardwalk fries after you boogie board with your children.
I personally prefer that both my children move one step forward while enjoying their summer break and not two steps back. Our school district has provided us with summer homework and in the past I was noncommittal regarding the completion of it – that is no longer the case.
Both of my children will complete their summer homework – reading, writing, spelling and math. However, this learning will occur in an entertaining environment – it is summer break after all! It is important that both of my children enjoy their summer, but it is also important that they begin the school year with confidence and the skills necessary to have a successful school year.
Remember just like summer break, summer learning should be enjoyable!