When I was a teacher, planning for the first month (or two) of school meant one thing—REVIEW. All of the great knowledge that children gain in one school year magically disappears over the summer and has to be reviewed.
During the summer, kids lose an average 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency in math computation skills and 25 percent of their reading skills. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Like any muscle, when the brain is used, strength -- and in this case knowledge -- will be retained, but if kids are left with 2 ½ months of “break” from using their brain, it is no wonder there is such a loss in academic skills.
As you are preparing for what activities, camps, trips, and social functions your children will be participating in this summer, keep some of these tips in mind for helping your child to beat the “Summer Slide”!
1. Get them involved in the local library or bookstore’s summer reading program. It is a chance for kids to choose the books they want to read and can provide some great motivation with prizes and recognition. Make a trip to the library a weekly event that is scheduled into your child’s calendar.
2. At the beginning of the summer, ask your child what three new things they would like to learn about or learn to do this summer and set plans for how to make those happen. Yes, learning to scuba dive might not be possible, but learning about the best places to scuba dive is more reasonable.
3. Set aside half an hour each day for reading or completing some type of brainteaser, math worksheets, crossword puzzles, or logic puzzles. Doing these activities as a family will promote your view that learning is fun since you are doing it with your children.
4. When visiting someplace new, whether it is a new town or new country, spark your kid’s interest in the history, activities, or strange occurrences of the place. Everything from researching silly laws (check this website out), or reading up on the old ghost stories of a location can add to the adventure. When visiting, check out the local children’s museums, aquariums, and history tours. Most of the time, children will be so enthralled with the activities they won’t even know they are using their brain!
5. Set strict limits on television, computer and video game time. Invite your child’s friends over frequently to encourage creative play and interaction. Set up board game tournaments, craft days, and baking- or building-themed playtime. Have lots of dress up clothes and props available to spark their imaginations.
6. Make a rainy day toy box so kids don’t end up watching TV all day (raining or not!) The box can consist of age-appropriate puzzles, Play-doh, circle-the-word booklets, art supplies, craft ideas, board games, playing cards, etc.
7. Consider registering your child for summer camps that encourage kids to use their minds on science projects, exploration, creative writing, music and art. Make sure that along with the sports camps that exercise their bodies, your children also have a chance to exercise their minds over the summer.
8. Use the summer to strengthen your student’s cognitive skills through one-on-one brain training to improve memory, visual and auditory processing, attention, logic and reasoning. A core of strong brain skills will help them head back to school with the tools to succeed at learning in any subject. Unlike tutoring, which focuses on academics, brain training addresses the root causes of any learning struggles.
9. Encourage your child to learn an instrument or another language. Studies have shown a strong correlation between “arts” and “smarts.”
10. Buy or create a book of games and activities your children can play in the car. Even a simple game like “20 Questions” can help improve a child’s logic, reasoning and memory. Use car time to discuss the book your child is reading or to play a game, rather than letting all their time be spent with the Gameboy or iPod.
Parents can also request a free five-page booklet from LearningRx (www.LearningRx.com) about the summer slide that includes dozens of brain-building games and exercises, as well as tips on how to incorporate brain building into daily activities.
Keep in mind: although many children need a break after a long school year, they don’t need more than a week. Don’t assume that your kids will roll their eyes at continuing to learn over the summer; many children want to do well in the next school year and they want to feel prepared.
According to Scholastic Parents Online, research shows that reading just six books during the summer can keep a struggling reader from regressing. Building activities into their schedule from the beginning of the summer and promoting fun learning times as a family can do a lot to make learning fun and keep your child’s brain strong.
When you are hearing the word “bored” a little too often, it is a sign that your child’s brain needs a little stimulation!