Summer Brain Drain

Hello and welcome!

Don’t look now, but summer vacation is nearly upon us. Depending on which part of the country you live in, your child has anywhere from a few days to a few weeks of school left before summer vacation begins.

What are your plans for helping your child stay current with his academic skills over the summer? As you may know, the first several weeks of school each fall are often spent reviewing, re-teaching and re-learning the material from the previous school year.

According to a study done by Dr. Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, kids lose one to three months worth of learning over the summer.

Kids appear to lose the most skills in the area of math, although reading skills suffer over the summer months, too. To ensure your kids are “up to speed” next fall, it’s important to find ways to support your child’s newly learned skills over the summer.

By putting a plan in place to help your child stay current with what she has just learned this school year, you are helping her start school next fall with a sense of confidence that might be lacking otherwise.

The most important thing to remember is that whatever methods you choose to use to help your child avoid Summer Brain Drain, it’s important to keep it from seeming like a chore.  After all, summer is a time for relaxing and having fun.

When you think about it, math is something that is imbedded in our everyday life. Kids can stay fresh with math skills by doing things such as cutting a sandwich into halves, thirds or fourths, finding discount coupons for groceries in magazines or newspapers, counting how many steps lead down from your deck to the yard, etc.

Numerous board games provide an opportunity to count “play money”, add the dots on dice, read the numbers on a spinner, etc. And the bonding that happens over a game board is just a bonus. Having fun together while learning is such a smart way to spend time with your kids.

A few more of Miss Cathie’s math review ideas for kids are listed here:

  • Count the money in a piggy bank.
  • When baking, figure out how many cookies you’ll get if you double the recipe.
  • Take out the button jar and count how many buttons of each color there are, then add up all the colors to find the grand total in the jar.
  • Keep track of upcoming events on the calendar and then calculate how many weeks or days are left until the event.
  • Find an old calculator in the desk drawer and add, subtract, divide and multiply your way through a rainy afternoon.
  • Cut brightly colored geometric shapes from scrap paper and glue into a picture or a design on a sheet of notebook or copier paper.
  • Arrange different shaped and colored blocks into a repeating pattern.
  • Have a garage sale and keep track of the money by separating the coins and the bills. At the end add it all up to find the total. Don’t forget to subtract whatever change you started out with in your moneybox. The number you get is the profit you made on the garage sale.

Of course, there are many more good ways to keep your child’s math skills fresh over the summer. Just remember to keep it fun and interesting.

Reading is another area that children lose skills in over the summer. As with math, there are numerous every day activities that can help your child retain those skills. Things as simple as reading the back of the cereal box, reading billboards from the car or reading the comics can work to your child’s advantage by providing practice that doesn’t feel like work.

Also, don’t forget to bring books along with you in the car. There are many opportunities to squeeze in some good reading time while “on board”. And be sure to visit your local library as often as you can. Besides providing a treasure trove of books, they often provide fun weekly learning activities, reading challenges, etc.

Of course, the obvious way to have your child read more during the summer is by providing a constant supply of books. But according to the National Summer Learning Association, providing books with no guidance may not be of much help.

The Association recommends helping your child choose skill-appropriate books to read independently or with family members. That’s where the real learning lies.

At Hawthorne School each year I was secretary, I would get a summer reading list from our school librarian and then publish the list of good summer reads for kids on the back the last newsletter of the year. This was a real boon to parents who want to help their child but have no idea where to begin.

Currently, there are many places and organizations that provide age and skill-appropriate summer reading programs for kids. The web site, My Frugal Adventures, has a nice list of links to free summer reading programs for kids. You can find the list by clicking here.

So as you can see from these few suggestions, there are many ways to help your child avoid the Summer Brain Drain. It’s important that you figure out a plan that will work for your family and then pull out all stops to put it in place as summer begins. After all, we’d all like to see our child begin school next fall with a big dose of confidence.

In closing, I’d like to wish you a happy summer of supporting your kids in their quest to stay fresh with academic skills over the next several months.

Happy problem solving!

Cathie

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