Summer Brain Drain: 10 Ways Parents Can Help Stop It

Have you heard of summer “brain drain”?  If you haven’t, then keep reading to learn more. If you have, trying to find ways to help prevent summer brain drain this year for your kids, might be something that you’re looking to do! The words ‘summer vacation’ usually conjures up images of long, hot days, freedom and adventure. School and education is usually the furthest thing on the minds of young people and the effect of the commonly called ‘summer brain drain’ is definitely not on the radar. All the strain, stress and hard work of exams have dissipated, and the excitement of three months without educational restraints is often uplifting.

What is Summer Brain Drain?

However, come September and the beginning of the school year, the dread of returning to school is only accentuated after such a long hiatus from any kind of studying, school work or learning. It can often take children quite a while to regain the focus required for academic success. The good news is that there are several ways that you, as parents, can minimize the summer brain drain. To put in simply, reverse the problem. Fill up the brain! There are plenty of way you can do this.

How to Stop Summer Brain Drain

Try some of these tips during summer break to help keep your children in a positive educational mindset.

  1. Read, read, read

The ability to read forms such an important backbone in your child’s education, so it shouldn’t stop when school does.  You can read to your children, have them read aloud to you, or encourage them to read on their own, depending on their age and ability.  Join your local library and ask either the librarian or your child’s teacher for quality book recommendations.  Even 30 minutes a day reading something is a start and will help your child keep their mind active and growing.

  1. Music lessons

Learning an instrument does wonders for brain development and it can often be difficult during the busy school term to find the time. Look for holiday music programs or hire an instrument and teach your children yourself – there are plenty of resources online to help you!

  1. Write about it

Writing is another skill that children will use throughout their education, and one that can rapidly decline when it isn’t used! Ask your children to keep a diary of their holiday, especially if you go somewhere or do something exciting or unusual. You don’t need to read it, the fact that they are writing is good enough. If your child is showing interest in writing, encourage story writing or look for writing workshops at your local library.

While handwriting is important, as it improves fine motor skills and is still helpful in day to day life, the brain will still get a workout when children type. Encourage them to focus on spelling, grammar, sentence structure and, most importantly, fun and creativity!  Don’t forget to check out writing competitions or programs online.  There are some great and free writing groups your children can join.

  1. Museums, art galleries and more

Museums, art galleries and exhibition centers are great for children at any time, but during school holidays you will find a large array of shows and activities to capture the minds of young people. Discuss the content with them, ask questions and promote conversation – you never know, you might learn something too! Following on from the previous tip, you can also ask them to write about what they have learnt in their summer journal.

  1. Don’t worry about boredom

Quite often parents worry about their children becoming bored. But if you are constantly providing them with activities and ideas on how to keep occupied, they will not develop the ability to think for themselves. As already stated, a simple way to avoid summer brain drain is to encourage children to use their brains – so let them figure out how to entertain themselves aside from staring at a phone or computer screen!

  1. Go on vacation

This may seem like it would do the very opposite, and keep your kids’ brains in holiday mode. However, a holiday, no matter how small, can have a positive learning impact.

If you can afford it, a trip that includes cultural diversity is priceless in your children’s learning, but even a trip to the local campground can help teach children skills such as independence and cooking.

Family vacations can also go a long way to improving relationships.  Simply getting out of one’s day to day surroundings opens up your eyes, ears and mind to new things and interesting environments.  If your budget is tight, explore the idea of a stay-cation where you don’t leave your area but camp out at home and take day adventures from there to new areas or places that you haven’t yet explored.

  1. Make your home a learning environment

Issuing children various chores and responsibilities is nothing new in most houses, but the summer break can be a great chance to involve the children further. Whether you pay them for extra chores to teach lessons of saving, finance and delayed gratification, or simply encourage them to work as part of a team in the daily running of the household to promote responsibility, children will learn valuable life skills.

Don’t forget fun activities such as cooking and meal planning – children will love having a say in what the family eats, and cooking and baking together uses math and science skills and helps to develop patience. Engaging children this way reminds children that they are capable of learning, therefore promoting a growth mindset that will help them when they return to the classroom.

  1. Learn another language

You don’t need to send your children back to school fluent in a foreign language, but the process the brain goes through when learning a new language will help with brain development and other subject areas.

Look out for short courses within your community, or find a private tutor at Private Tutoring at Home. If the cost provides limitations, there are resources available online or at your local library, or perhaps you have a bilingual friend that may be willing to help out! With the way the world is these days, learning about another culture and having some familiarity with another language is becoming more and more important.

  1. Work or volunteer

This one is for the older students, although younger children can be given responsibilities around the home. A job, be it paid or volunteer, will help young adults develop responsibility, time-keeping, organizational skills, confidence, job-specific skills, and can often lead to building positive friendships with people outside of school.

  1. Let them play

While it’s often with the best intentions, many parents try too hard to help their children succeed academically. Children need play. It stimulates creativity, allows them to relax and can improve social relationships. Of course, you need to be careful of the type, and how much play they do. For example, it wouldn’t be productive for a child to spend the majority of their summer playing games on a computer or phone on their own. Age also plays a factor. Younger children can be afforded more play than older children, but fun should always be a consideration!

Summer brain drain is a real fact of life for those with three and up to four months off from the school year.  Finding ways that can eliminate some or all of it will allow you greater peace of mind this summer and your kids and easier time when fall rolls around and school starts up again!  Let us know some of your tips and tricks in the comments below!

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6 Best Summer Math Activities: How to Stay Smart & Have Fun

Been thinking about some fun summer math activities to add into the day?  Math games and activities shouldn’t be reserved for the classroom. In fact, you can have a ton of educational fun with your children over the summer break.

Best of all?  You don’t need to spend money on fancy games, all of these games can be created with objects you have lying around the house. The great things about these math games is that you can adapt them to any age group, meaning you can play the same game with the whole family!

Fun Summer Math Activities

1. Shape Twister

The good thing about this game is that it has the potential to entertain children for hours. The game is played much like the traditional game of Twister, but uses basic mathematical shapes. You can prepare the game yourself or get children to help you (thus keeping them busy for even longer). This is how you do it:

  • Draw large basic shapes on paper, colored or plain is fine – the focus is on shapes. You will need four of each of the six shapes (these can vary depending on knowledge, but some good ideas are square, circle, triangle, diamond, pentagon and rectangle).
  • Arrange the pieces of paper together to create a playing surface.
  • Create a spinning board. Using some strong cardboard, divide it into four sections (one for each hand and each foot).
  • In each segment draw each shape. These must be in circle formation so the spinner can definitively point to a shape. Use another piece of strong cardboard to cut an arrow shape. Fasten it to the board at the center with a paper fastener.
  • Play! Children take it in turns to play and to be the spinner. The spinner reads the instruction aloud for the players to follow, for example, ‘right hand on square’.
  • The winner is the player who doesn’t fall over!

2. Memory Matching Game

Help children improve their recognition, matchmaking and memory skills with this homemade memory game. Start by taking some photos of various objects and people. Print out the photos, ensuring you have double of each image. Glue the photos onto card or have them laminated.

How to play:

  • Shuffle the cards (the photos) and lay them face down in a grid pattern – no peeking!
  • Players take it in turns to flip over two cards. If they match, they keep the pair and have another turn. If not, they flip the cards back over and it is the next player’s turn.
  • Keep playing until all cards have been paired up and the player with the most pairs wins!

3. Bottle Toss

This game is just like many games you see at carnivals!

  • Collect a bunch of bottles and fill them with water to make them more stable. Write different numbers on each of the lids – vary these depending on your child’s ability and whether you are focusing on addition or multiplication.
  • Cluster the bottles together and use plastic rings, perhaps bangles, to toss over the top of the bottles. Give children a challenge such as ‘add to 20’ or ‘multiply to 60’.
  • Children aim at various numbers to create a successful equation.
  • The first person to achieve the challenge wins!

4. Pitch, Hit and Graph

Enjoy the outdoors with your kids and have some educational fun! This activity is geared towards baseball, but you could adapt it to any sport you like. It can be played with any number of people, but the more people you have the more more data you will get, creating more graphing options. This makes a great challenge for older children.

  • Set up distance targets and pitch the ball to your kid. For each hit, record the distance using pen and paper.
  • Convert the data to a graph – try line graphs, bar graphs and pie charts.
  • Don’t forget to have your child pitch to you and record you scores!

5. Mathematical Tic-Tac-Toe

Turn this classic game into a educational math activity.

  • Use nine squares of paper for the tic-tac-toe grid. Write several math problems or equations on the squares and arrange in a grid pattern face down.
  • Each player has their own small stack of cards, or paper, with either an ‘X’ or an ‘O’. They take it in turns to flip the paper in the grid, choose a problem and answer it. If answered correctly, they replace the piece of paper with their own, thus placing and ‘X’ or an ‘O’ in its place.
  • The aim is to create three successful sheets in a row!

6. Playing Card Math

Everyone has a deck of cards lying around, so dig them out and play this math game.

  • Remove the King, Queen, Jack and Joker cards, and explain that ace cards are equal to one.
  • Shuffle the remaining cards and then place nine cards in a 3×3 grid pattern.
  • Ask you child to look for any combination of cards that add up to a particular number. Once they have identified the cards remove them, and replace them with new cards from the pack. If no combinations are available, remove all nine and replace them. Keep playing until the deck is complete.
  • For older children, give them a number and allow them to reach it using any way possible. For example, to reach six they might use 3×4-5-1 to get rid of as many cards as possible.
  • Make it a two player game and have the children alternate turns, the person who collects the most cards is the winner.

Games are great ways to get kids working their brains, decreasing summer learning loss and staying on top of all that they learned in school.  In addition, by playing some summer math activities together you accomplish a few things without anyone noticing. First, you’re having family or togetherness time.  Secondly, you’re just having plain ‘ole fun!  Remember that term?  The older we get the more we forget it. 😉  And finally, Your kids are able to work on their math skills without realizing it.  Finding practical applications and fun with a few of these summer math activities is a great and easy way to do it!

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Put an End to Summer Learning Loss

Summer learning loss prevention is something that we, as parents, need to think about with our kids!  Many experts believe that the summer learning loss percentage can be 1 month of learning from during the school year, though other studies show as much as 25-30% of a loss.  Many children reach their academic peak at the end of the school year, after all they have studied, reviewed subjects and sat for endless amounts of tests while being in school nine to ten months at that point. Their brains are full of information that they can recall at the drop of a hat.

And then what happens? Summer vacation. Around ten to twelve weeks of freedom, fun and no stress or pressure from school. Sure, kids need time to be kids and to enjoy their childhood, but summer learning loss can cause real problems upon the return to school. What is even more problematic is the divide that summer learning loss can create between children.

While some learning loss is to be expected, the good news is that it can be minimized. The bad news is that some children are more susceptible than others. This article aims to explain who is most affected and hopes to offer some solutions to this educational-dividing issue.

 

Summer Learning Loss – the Problem and Some Solutions

Every child is at risk of experiencing summer learning loss. There are, of course, a small percentage of children who attend regular summer school and similar programs, which significantly reduces any learning loss. Unfortunately, in general, children who come from lower income families tend to experience summer learning loss more than their wealthier counterparts.

The reasons for this are highlighted here, as well as strategies to prevent summer learning loss regardless of age, economic status or learning ability. With a few steps to minimize learning loss, you can help your kids get on track to have a great start to the new academic year!

Summer Learning Loss Low Income – Why?

One theory suggests that the reason lower-income students return to school with a large learning deficit is due to their lack of resources over the summer period. During school, all students have fairly equal access to learning, especially during class time, thus making similar learning gains and improvements. However, over the summer, students from higher-income families tend to have access to more resources to continue on an ever increasing learning curve.

The tips in this article are not dependent on a high income and are guaranteed to help the positive learning continue no matter what your financial resources.

What Causes the Problem…

In order to prevent summer learning loss, children must keep learning. This doesn’t always mean summer school or extra tutors, although, for some children this is beneficial. Learning happens in a large variety of ways. Holidays, language lessons, and sport camps are all ways to keep learning. They also come at a cost that many families cannot afford.

Simply engaging children in conversation and spending quality time together can help reduce summer learning loss, but this can be difficult for single parents, those who work long hours and can’t afford time away from work, or those who, for a variety of reasons, have less than positive familial relationships. However, family doesn’t mean just blood relatives.  Extended family and friends can all be a part of this as well.  Kids learn from whomever is around, just give them the chance!

Some Solutions to Fix It

The simple answer is to keep children learning throughout their summer break. Of course, having a healthy budget can help with the type and number of activities children participate in, but money doesn’t have to be a limiting factor. Most summer learning loss articles offer expensive suggestions that are targeted towards families that can afford it. This only increases the educational gap and does nothing to help low income families. Not this article.

Check out the following list of low-cost, accessible and fun learning experiences to aid summer learning loss prevention in all children.

 

  • Read, Read, Read

One of the best things children can do over the summer is read. Libraries are usually free to join and offer an abundance of books for children of all ages. Librarians are full of knowledge about books to help advise you on what might suit your child the best, and what might help them develop a love for reading. A child may be a hesitant reader simply because they haven’t found a style of book they enjoy.

 

  • Get Writing

Writing is a valuable skill for all educational levels. It only requires a notebook and a pen or pencil and can help stimulate the creative brain as well as helping children maintain the fine motor skills required to write. This may sound silly, but several months without even gripping a pen can be very detrimental to this widely used skill. For younger children, drawing and coloring are helpful too.

  • Promote a thirst for learning

The type of children that learn best at school are the ones that want to learn. You can make almost any activity a learning experience by encouraging conversation and asking your child questions. Hopefully, this will stimulate them to think about things and start a journey of curiosity and inquisitiveness. Try simple questions like these;

  • “ where does the food you are eating come from?”
  • “ how do they build bridges over water?”

The best type of questions are ones that naturally form part of a conversation, such as “why do you think…” and “ what will happen if…” Hopefully you get the idea.

Once a child begins to question the world and desire a meaningful and valuable answer, there will be no stopping them!  Learning new things is key to summer learning loss prevention!

  • Explore free or near free events and areas

Most towns and cities have summer events and activities to get involved in or to explore.  Summer concerts, art programs, STEM program (growing in popularity and availability), library or community center options are all free or near free to those residents in the community.

In addition, there are a lot of online resources as well for your kids to explore.  For example, do you or your child like to write?  Then perhaps writing a book would be something fun like this summertime book writing program to get involved in!  Online searches will show several opportunities for kids to get involved in areas that will stimulate and help them grow academically and have fun doing so.

  • Create a positive and supportive environment

A child will be more willing to learn if they feel comfortable. Don’t put your child down for asking questions or when they make mistakes. Encourage them to persist, talk about mistakes, and lead by example by trying new things yourself.  If they get nervous about trying something new, maybe you could try it as well?  Or show them you trying something else that’s new to you so that they see everyone goes through the same types of experiences.

  • Do something different

If you can afford to take a small holiday, do it. Trips like camping or visiting relatives can often be done without breaking the bank. Taking your children out of their everyday environment gives them a break and a chance to see and do things that they don’t ordinarily do. They will gain new experiences and build more positive relationships with you. Try rearranging the living room together, doing some gardening, eating at the table instead of in front of the television, or playing a board game. Day trips are good too, and there are always cheap and free activities for children during school holidays – you just have to pay attention to what they are.

Our summer learning loss articles are just the beginning of the steps that are available to you to test out!  Explore and discover other ways that you can help your kids not have as much or any issues this year!  Let us know what steps you do and share so others can get ideas as well.

 

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