How to Minimize the Summer Brain Drain
Kids look forward to summertime and having all that free time to do whatever they’d like. But to educators this is also sometimes known as “the summer slide.” This is a time when parents catch their children vegging out– texting, watching TV, playing video games, or simply whining, “I’m bored,” what are we to do?
Here are some suggestions that are all low-cost or no-cost activities that you can do in whatever time you have with your kids.
- Help your children pursue their interests. Judy DeLoache of the University of Virginia notes in her studies that all children have intense interests when they are young. So plan times with your children for them to pursue an interest. If your children don’t seem to have an interest, help them develop one. For example, on a Saturday, have a meeting and say: “Today, each of us is going to pick one thing we want to do—that’s affordable and doable and that’s how we are going to spend this Saturday.” You might find yourself visiting a museum, a plant nursery or the local zoo and then research more about a particular subject, animal or type of plant.
- Help your children make plans and follow through with them.During the summer children will often say they are bored. One way to solve this is to ask your child to make a list of things he/she likes to do that don’t cost money (e.g. games they like to play, activities etc), and then refer to that list on a regular basis. Giving children (from the preschool years and older) responsibility for making plans and following through on these plans involves what researchers call “executive functions” of the brain, functions that take place in the prefrontal cortex. Executive functions are always goal directed. Many studies have found that children who develop executive functions are much more likely to thrive now and in the future.
- Have a family game time.I have many fond memories of family game time with my family especially during the summer. Many of these games help children develop executive function skills, which besides being goal directed, also involve paying attention or focusing, remembering the rules, and thinking flexibly. These can be a big jig-saw puzzle that you spread out on a table, a game of Scrabble, card games, I Spy, or Simon Says (but play it with a twist, asking children to do the opposite of the directions you call out). Family game times can also involve being active, such as sports or tossing a ball.
- Have family story time.Select books that you all want to read but read them aloud and discuss them. Studies have found that the children who read during the summer are less likely to fall behind. But don’t just read the story, talk about it. Ask the children why they think the characters in the story acted as they did. You are teaching them the skill of perspective taking when you do that.
- Use mealtimes for conversation.Talk about things that your child did during that day or if they have difficulty thinking of something to discuss, pick a letter of the alphabet and when it is your child’s turn, have him/her talk about something that begins with that letter. The rest of the family has to guess what the child is talking about. This activity helps children develop the skill of communicating.
- Create a family project that is meaningful. You might decide to do something as a family that helps to make your community a better place like picking up trash in the neighborhood or volunteering at an orphanage.
- Be a learner yourself.Children are more likely to become self-directed engaged learners when they are surrounded by people who are learning. Whether it is getting interested in how your children learn and extending their learning or whether it is your own interests, children learn to live what they see, not just what you say.
For more articles on Ideas for Summer Enrichment with your child please go to the Student Support Blog: http://blog.ssis.edu.vn/studentsupport4es/learning-support You will find many articles about summer enrichment. Also on our website, you will also find many links to math and reading internet websites for kids.
Adapted, summarized and paraphrased from the article: Seven Ways to Help Your Children Thrive During Summer from www.Mindinthemaking.org
Barbara Wilson-Learning Support Teacher