How to Avoid “Brain Drain”
Summer is in full swing, but there’s still plenty of time to enjoy the break. Most of us believe that summer vacation is for kicking back, relaxing, and making memories with family and friends. After all, our kids work hard throughout the school year and they deserve some stress-free time, without any assignments or deadlines looming over their heads.
Unfortunately, years of research have shown that students are susceptible to a certain amount of summer learning loss–also known as “brain drain”–in the months between the end of one academic year and the beginning of the next. The effect is cumulative, and one consequence of learning loss over time is lower standardized test scores, especially among at-risk and low-income students.
As a parent, are you worried that your child might be falling behind this summer? There are plenty of things that you can do to help your child retain their math and reading skills, without having to spend a lot of time and money on expensive enrichment programs or camps.
Here are some suggestions for avoiding summer learning loss while still having fun.
1) READ. This is one of the most valuable habits you can encourage. Make reading a game or a friendly competition between family members. For instance, have them set a goal of a number of pages to read by the end of summer break. Choose a book to read and discuss as a family.
2) Are you wondering what to do about the potential loss of math skills? For your younger students, consider everyday learning with tasks like cooking and shopping. Older kids might benefit from a summer enrichment program, either in person or online.
3) Check your local events calendar for cultural happenings, such as plays, concerts, art shows, or sports events, whatever your child is most interested in. These types of extracurricular activities will make them think and apply what they have learned in school.
4) A charity or community service project can be a great learning experience and character builder. By doing a bit of research, parents can locate age-appropriate volunteer or charity activities and even participate with their children.
During the lazy days of summer, it’s okay to relax your rules if you like. Kids can usually handle slightly later bedtimes and more time just hanging out with friends. However, you probably shouldn’t abandon all of your routines. Children, even older ones, need structure and consistency from their parents.
For more ideas, there are countless sources of information, such as the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), whose annual advocacy day, National Summer Learning Day, takes place on July 14, 2016.
Robyn Botkin, Co-Director