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Avoid Summer Brain Drain: How to Keep Your Kids’ Education from Going Down the Tube

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While the end of the school year is often celebrated by students and teachers alike, it brings a bigger issue to table that can delay and regress some students in the upcoming grade level. It goes by many names: the summer slide, summer learning loss, and even, brain drain.

Regardless of what you call it, brain drain is described as the loss of academic material that had been previously processed throughout the school year, making starting back up in the fall harder and harder for students.

According to Oxford Learning, the “equivalent of one month of overall learning is lost after summer vacation”, an effect that’s felt even more strongly in lower-income areas.

But the great news is you can help your child avoid from forgetting everything they’ve learned from the past year and bust the boredom. Keeping your child engaged in mind-stimulating activities is the best way to lessen summer brain drain. A combination of the strategies will help your child’s brain remain active and keep them from getting caught in a boring schedule that starts to feel a little bit too much like school.

Environment is everything.

Many adults that work from home have a home office. Why? Because it’s harder to concentrate at the same place that you eat dinner or watch Netflix. When you have a space dedicated to the task at hand, you can focus on the task, not the distractions. We’re not saying you need to build a pseudo-classroom in your basement, but creating a specific space that your child can read, learn, and explore throughout the summer (and flow right into the school year as a homework nook) can be very helpful in getting them to focus. Even mimicking the timing of the school day can be helpful. Having your child do their educational activities in the morning, similar to school, can give them a schedule that you both are okay with.

Not all apps are created evil.

Hate forking over your iPad? Here’s a reason to feel good about it. Digital media helps your child’s mind stay nimble by disguising math and reading skills in a game form they will actually want to play. Using flashcard apps like Brainscape, can give your child a focus while also learning a little something.

Summer reading programs.

Reading skills are like a muscle, if not exercised, they become weak. Don’t let lazy summer days corrode your child’s confidence in the classroom. Reading programs are a staple in most community libraries and help motivate leisure reading. Be sure to give them the freedom to choose their books on subjects they enjoy, eliminating the possible “why am I doing this”. Encourage your child to do 20 minutes of reading each day to most effectively avoid losing these skills. Another positive of a library-run summer reading program? There are often additional activities or events put on by the library that go with the theme that year!

In the car? No problem!

Summertime can go hand in hand with road trips which offer a unique opportunity to help your child get ahead. Test out audio books that are about one to two levels higher than your child’s reading level. Hearing the words can give your child a better understanding in the moment and can be advantageous whenever they see these words written out. Check out your local library or Audible to find audio books for your next car trip.

Call it a statistic.

Math is the most under-practiced skill in the summer. Like reading, math skills can be lost if not practiced. There aren’t nearly as many math-based summer programs out there as there are reading ones, so this is where you can show your child the practical aspect of math. Ask them to count objects around them, teach addition from grocery store receipts, and even how to use fractions while cooking can be great ways to add math back in your child’s day. If all else fails, age-appropriate math workbooks are useful tools as well.

Not just space camp.

For kids, there are summer camp options galore! Apart from the typical camps you see, there are STEM, literacy, and problem solving-based day camps that can offer your child a new way to practice subjects with a hands-on strategy. Any sort of camp can be beneficial for your child because of its schedule-like format that is more like a school day. Check with your community parks or local YMCA for affordable, effective programming options.

Be adventurous.

Just because your child needs to be engaged to avoid summer brain drain doesn’t mean it needs to repetitive and boring. Spice it up with trips to a local museum and get your child to interact with the exhibits. Trek to the local zoo and learn more about animal life. Even heading to your community park can offer a wealth of learning opportunities for free. You can make anything an educational experience with a little prep work.

Whatever activities you decide to plan for your little learner over the summer, make them engaged and interested. When they’re doing something they enjoy and are learning at the same time, everyone wins!

Here are some resources from the National Summer Learning Association to get started engaging your child today.

Avoid Summer Brain Drain

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