With the school year coming to a close, many parents are looking for ways to combat summer brain drain, and VTech has smart tips to help promote summer learning fun. Summer brain drain happens when students are away from the structured learning environment of a classroom and lose some of the knowledge and skills gained during the school year because they are not regularly exercising their brains. According to research from Johns Hopkins and other universities, students typically lose one to two months of reading and math skills during the summer break. But there are many ways you can help keep children's minds active during the summer months and avoid these setbacks.
Children's brains develop at a remarkable pace and don't take a break just because school is out. To help your children continue to grow over the summer months, offer fun experiences that feed their curiosity and encourage learning and exploration.
Here are some smart tips to help combat summer brain drain:
‧ Read, read, read! – The benefits of reading to children are enormous, including helping language and speech development, expanding their vocabulary and building a lifetime love of reading. Children who read more perform better in school, so you should absolutely continue reading to your children during the summer months. Visit the local library often and let your children choose books that interest them. Or, consider using e-books that allow children to follow written words as the book is read aloud - a fun alternative that brings reading to life through engaging stories and characters.
Utilize learning toys – Learning toys can help children stay mentally sharp during vacations, while also allowing them to explore and have fun. Look for toys like VTech's InnoTab® 3 Learning App Tablet, which combines innovative technology with a developmental learning tool to make learning fun.
‧ Look for teachable moments – Daily life is filled with opportunities to teach our children. Following a new recipe for dinner? Let your child help read and measure the ingredients. Balancing your check book? Let your child put his or her math skills to use. Going on a road trip? Ask your child to look for specific signs along the way and follow along on a map.
‧ Plan educational outings – You don't have to plan an extravagant vacation to teach a child about culture and customs. Museums and local historical societies can teach children about history, dinosaurs, art, and more. A local zoo or aquarium teaches children about new animals and their environment. You can often find free summer concerts that can expose your child to new styles of music and dance.
‧ Consider a summer program – There are camps and summer programs for nearly every interest, such as art, sports, and theater. If your child enjoys storeis,, look for a writing camp. If your child likes homemade experiments, look for a science camp. For a child who needs more help in school, look for a summer learning program, which has been proven to raise school performance. Local libraries also often have free summer programs that appeal to a variety of interests.
‧ Encourage savings – Saving money is a great way to put children's math skills to use. Let your children count the coins in their piggy bank. Show them how much they will need for something they are saving for and if they're old enough, teach them how to create a budget to reach their goal. Let them clip coupons with you and put the money saved into their piggy bank. Playing "store" with your child and using coins or pretend money is another great way to utilize math skills.
Most importantly, enjoy summer learning fun with your children!
About Dr. Lise Eliot
Dr. Eliot is a neuroscientist and author of What's Going On In There: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life. The mother of two sons and a daughter, she also recently published the book Pink Brain, Blue Brain, which examines sex differences and similarities in children's mental and emotional development – and what parents can do to help minimize gender gaps in school achievement. Dr. Eliot lectures widely about brain and gender development to parents, teachers and other early childhood professionals.