I’ve spent my fair share of time in classrooms. I once spent copious amounts of time and effort learning trigonometry, studying hard in hopes of doing well. Once the class ended and summer started, however, I promptly forgot everything that I worked so hard to learn, opting instead to sink into my bed with exhaustion since the school year ended. I studied so hard for trigonometry, but I couldn’t even tell you what radians are now, because it left my brain as soon as June rolled around.
Summer “brain drain” is a phenomenon where students may lose some of the knowledge they learned throughout the school year while their brains are inactive during the summer months outside of the classroom. A way to avoid this from occurring is by keeping children’s brains active so they stay on track when they return to school in September. Don’t worry– they don’t necessarily have to be reading from a textbook or doing worksheets, if that isn’t your kid’s thing.
The way to keep children on track with writing is, as you might guess, by writing. However, one great idea is to ask your child to keep a journal. That way, they have an excuse to write every day– something that may be difficult to do otherwise –and it also allows them to reflect on their experiences and practice mindfulness. Building this into a routine from a young age teaches them how to emotionally regulate while also allowing them to build their writing skills.
To keep reading abilities where they should be, consider having a mini book club. If there’s other kids in the neighborhood, they can form one together. Every week, they can meet and have a discussion on a book they read on their own, which has the plus of allowing critical thinking and growing the skills of effective communication. Other kids not interested or unavailable? No problem. Your family can have their own little book club. Consider reading along with your child and assisting them where necessary. Afterwards, ask them questions about what they’ve read to work on their reading comprehension skills.
You and your kids with surely enjoy summer with this Family Time Game activity. Download your FREE Printable Here!
Math is a little more tricky to sneak in without using worksheets (yes, ugh, I know, math.) However, even simple daily activities can be used to practice math. While you’re at the grocery store, your child can keep track of the total cost of items. Give them a notepad and a pencil, and they can add together the items two at a time. The same is true for restaurants, department stores, sports games– anything that involves money or a number of points is an opportunity to exercise math skills.
If you’re looking to discuss science with your children, discuss the environment around you. The pattern of the temperatures, what causes the lightning we see in summer storms and the thunder shortly after, what causes the waves at the beach, and how the plants in your garden survive are all great topics to explain to your children. Plus, there are plenty of great science experiments that can be done at home that you can find online– have you ever fried an egg outside on a real hot day? I have. It was awesome.
More generally, a great help with keeping young minds active is by getting out of the house. Taking summer road trips, for example, can be an opportunity to teach about history. When you stop in a new town or at a landmark, you can discuss the location’s history. If you’re able to, a museum is a wonderful location to learn about anything from science to history to art. Likewise, taking a day trip to the zoo or the beach may open the door for conversation about ecosystems and animal life.
Finally, there are resources available to you that can keep your kids thinking. Your local library may have programs happening during the summer to encourage learning, or your town might have a summer camp where your children can stay active with others. It has the added benefit of staying connected to the people in your community.
These are only a handful of ways that children can keep their minds active during these months. Fighting summer brain drain doesn’t have to be boring, it can simply be a part of daily life. Learning opportunities can be found everywhere– just keep your eyes peeled and your mind open, and you’re sure to spot them. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to Google what a radian is.
Chloe Kukuk, an upcoming junior majoring in public relations and English at Oakland University, is an editorial and marketing intern at the Cardinal Rule Press. When she’s not studying or working, she loves taking trips to the bookstore and lazing around the house with her three wonderful cats.