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Tips to Avoid Summer Brain Drain

by Clement Chau

While kids are getting excited for the approaching summer, concerns arise about summer brain drain, which occurs when students lose the knowledge they gained during the school year. Research indicates that many children show learning losses when they return to school in the fall, and that these summer setbacks are cumulative, resulting in increasing levels of learning loss over time¹.

Summer brain drain is a valid concern, but parents can help avoid setbacks through some fun summer learning opportunities:

• Visit a library. Many libraries offer summer reading challenges to encourage reading. Enlist the help of librarians to help children find books they’ll enjoy, and use the “five-finger” test to be sure your child has books at the right reading level: read one page of a book; if there are more than five unknown words, have your child choose another book.

•Learn about a new topic. Has your child been collecting rocks while walking to school? Does he or she like to point out different shapes of clouds in the sky? Help your children research these topics and learn more about the subjects they enjoy. If they’re passionate about a topic, they’ll be more likely to seek out more information. Engaging toys such as the LeapFrog LeapStart, an interactive learning system that gets kids excited about everything from counting to problem solving with activities that teach life and school skills, can help them explore new subjects.

•Set aside required reading time. On average, children who read more than 20 minutes a day scored above the 90th percentile on standardized reading tests.2 And research shows that reading just six books during the summer may keep a struggling reader from regressing3.

•Look for teachable moments. Going to a baseball game? Show your child how to calculate a batting average or a pitcher’s ERA. Making dinner? Let your child measure the ingredients. Clipping coupons? Show your child how much money will be saved in your grocery budget. Going on a road trip? Look up some fun facts about the different states you’ll see on license plates. Kids can even create a photo journal and take pictures to document their travels, using an easy-to-use, kid-friendly camera like the VTech Kidizoom Camera Pix.

•Read together. 48% of children (ages 6-8) report that they want adults to read aloud to them, even though they are able to read on their own.4 Use this time with your child to discuss the topics in the book and ask questions that help build thinking skills. Try prompts such as: Tell me about your favorite character. What was your favorite part of the book and why? Would you recommend this book to a friend?

By focusing on these activities, parents can help ensure their children are staying academically active and avoid summer setbacks.

1RAND (2011)
2, 3, 4Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report (2015)