5 Ways to Keep Brains Active in the Summer

Academics and Summer Vacation

Every spring teachers and school professionals say good-bye to students for summer vacation. “How much will they lose over the summer?” teachers ask after helping students make gains in reading and math levels, behavioral issues, and other academic areas. For some kids, a summer break keeping kids active during the summerfrom school brings relief from academic stress and anxiety. But for many kids, two to three months away from engaged learning results in cognitive losses by the beginning of the next school year.

Parents can help tweens and teens bridge academic and learning gaps over the summer without tutors or summer school. The following are five ways you can help your child retain academic gains over the summer:

  1. Make comprehension connections part of your daily routine. Whether it’s having your student use a recipe to help you cook or having them summarize what they’re reading online, look for reading opportunities you can talk about during your daily routine. It’s important for kids to engage in reading and real-life connections outside of school to reinforce reading and comprehension skills over the summer.
  2. Make math-facts part of your routine. Multiplication tables are a skill set many tweens and middle schoolers struggle with in school. It’s easy for kids to forget multiplication tables without using them during the summer. You can build these skills by going over multiplication, division, addition or subtraction facts while you’re in the car, hanging out by the pool, walking in grocery store or doing other familiar activities.
  3. Make independent reading a fun project. One of my kids is not an independent reader like his siblings. Several summers I offered “book bucks” to my tween/middle school-age kids as an incentive to read. I made coupons out of paper that had dollar values written on them for the level of books we had around the house. The kids filled out a coupon when they finished a reading a book and placed the coupon in a basket. They wrote the book title and something they learned from the book {another way of reinforced learning} on the coupon. They could trade their “book bucks” earned for real dollars to buy fun things of their choice {other books, music, video games, apps, etc.}.
  4. Limit time on video games whether kids are playing on gaming systems, tablets, smart phones or computers. Real play is important for kids because it strengthens brain development. Children who learn through kinesthetic learning need tangible opportunities to play because it strengthens their cognitive processing. Playing with non-electronic devices promotes creativity, problem solving, and higher level-thinking. While it’s tempting to occupy kids with games, balance it with “real time” activities.
  5. Realize the impact you have in helping your child grow academically. You are the biggest resource in helping your child learn because you know their strengths and weaknesses. If one of your tweens or teens struggles in school, identify and strengthen those weaknesses over the summer. Some kids have a hard time retaining important knowledge over summer vacation. Help your student strengthen their weaknesses by giving them opportunities to learn and apply knowledge in those weak areas during the summer.

As an educator, my colleagues and I see an increase in students who aren’t problem solving, being creative, retaining and applying information. In a world where everything is instant, it’s even more important to help kids develop cognitive processing. As you jump into summer, invest in their brain development while you have fun in the process.

 

 

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Brenda has a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a BA in education. She's a speaker, freelance writer, author, counselor and teacher who's spent two decades working with and raising teenagers. She's a mom of four, from middle school to young adult, and lives with her family on a farm in Indiana. She writes about life, faith, and parenting beyond the storybook image at Life Beyond the Picket Fence at brendayoder.com.

Brenda Yoder

Brenda has a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a BA in education. She's a speaker, freelance writer, author, counselor and teacher who's spent two decades working with and raising teenagers. She's a mom of four, from middle school to young adult, and lives with her family on a farm in Indiana. She writes about life, faith, and parenting beyond the storybook image at Life Beyond the Picket Fence at brendayoder.com.

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