Stop Summer Brain Drain

Diana Kraleva, Moment Collection, Getty Images.

When the long-awaited summer vacation arrives, the last thing your child is thinking about is how to keep all of those academic skills they have just gained.  If your child is a struggling learner, it is even more important to prevent a backslide in learning.  Keeping those skills sharp doesn't have to be boring or unnecessarily hard.  How do you do this and keep having fun under the summer sun?

Summer Reading Programs

These do not need to be formal or overly structured.

  Your goal is to keep your child reading, and enjoying it.  There are several companies that sponsor reading programs, as well as local libraries.  These programs provide rewards and incentives to children for reading books that the children choose.  You could also find a summer reading list to suggest titles that your child may like. 

Children's Groups and Organizations 

such as scouting or 4-H usually have projects that require children to read and follow directions as well as measure or count.  These projects progressively become more complicated as children grow older, and assume that children have learned different academic skills through school.  This means that your child will use what they learn in school in order to complete these activities.  

At Home Science Activities

do not need to be expensive or overly complicated.  Finding a fun activity to do with your child can be a great bonding experience, all while learning and using those skills learned during the school year.

Summer can be a great time to get tutoring

if your child is missing skills or behind in school.  Since school is not in session, you can focus on building up missing skills without the pressure of keeping up with new material being taught at the same time so that your child returns to school caught up.

 If your high school age student is short of credits, they may be able to take online high school courses over the summer to help them catch up and graduate on time.  Check with your child's classroom teacher or school counselor about different opportunities that are available, and to be sure that the program is approved to provide credit for your student.

Keep math in mind during the summer.

Research by Dr. Harris Cooper has shown that the greatest losses over the summer break happen in math.  Keep summer math fun by foregoing worksheets and instead finding the math in activities you would already enjoy doing during your summer.  Any activity that involves measuring, calculating or estimating can be turned into a math learning opportunity.  For  example, if you are taking a road trip this summer, you could have your child look at a map and use a proportion to calculate how many miles you will be travelling.  You can also find mileage per gallon by using the numbers on your odometer against how much gas you have put in your car.

If you do any baking, measuring and recipe adjustments are practical math applications.

Spelling is the second biggest educational loss

of most children over the summer break, according to the research by Dr. Cooper.  Encourage your child to keep a notebook or journal of their writing to help them keep the spelling skills they already have.  To encourage new skills, you can play games like Scrabble on rainy days.  Younger children may want to play free online spelling games like those at Play a challenge game with an older child where you find words in a dictionary, and see who can spell them.  Keep score to see who wins.  Any words that are missed can be written down and placed in a jar to be pulled at random for the next time you play - see if you can spell them right next time.

Resources: Dr Harris Cooper, Summer Learning Loss

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