Kids can forget what they learned during the long summer months. Avoid summer brain drain with these tips on how to keep your child learning in the summer.
“We won’t have homework the rest of the year,” my five-year-old announced after Memorial Day.
I was shocked. I had hoped they wouldn’t start getting ready for summer so soon. That’s when I realized “summer brain drain” is a real thing.
A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year…. It’s common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills. -National Summer Learning Association
Translation: kids lose two months’ worth of knowledge during the summer. Because of that, teachers have to spend a whole month re-teaching all that stuff they forgot. That’s a whole month teachers could’ve used introducing new material.
I don’t want my kids to have the summers I used to have. Not that they were terrible, but I definitely felt like I didn’t tap into my full potential. Elementary school wasn’t too bad. My sister and I visited the library and borrow The Babysitters Club (remember those?). Then we’d buy peaches at the grocery store and eat them every day.
When we reached our tween and teen years, it was all about staying up late to watch Arsenio Hall. We’d wake up at noon the next day and cook stove top mac n cheese.
I can’t remember anything productive I did during my summers. In high school, I still neglected my academics until school started. And this was a kid who was on the honor roll, sheesh.
We celebrate summer for its leisurely pace and lack of demanding school work. As they should: kids need both academic rigor and a relaxed schedule to excel. But also keep your child learning in the summer, not just the school year. Not only will they be better prepared for the coming year, they’ll also come to view learning as fun.
How to keep your child learning in the summer:
Enroll your child in a summer program.
Summer programs and camps can be fantastic ways to ensure your child keeps learning in the summer. Many programs have a focus, such as art, academics or athletics. You’ll also find a variety of options, such as full-day camps to once a week to a few hours each day. You’re not drilling academics but engaging your child through new skills and activities.
Read every day.
I can’t stress enough the importance of daily and frequent reading. Kids who read during the summer gain reading skills than those who don’t read at all. Incorporate reading into your routine, such as before bedtime. Scatter books everywhere, and have at least 50 children’s books in your home. (Here are our favorite children’s books this past year.)
Your child will gain reading skills and strengthen his love of knowledge. Reading has many long-term benefits that are too good to pass up!
Attend child-focused programs.
Many libraries host free events like story time or crafts. Being in the library also encourages your child to find books and associate learning with fun.
Like libraries, museums also host several child-focused events. Your child can view the exhibits and take part in crafts and activities. Here in LA, we’ve gone to a few in the Japanese American National Museum, the Fowler Museum at UCLA and the Skirball Cultural Center.
Take your child on field trips.
Go on Trip Advisor and find your home town. Look for ‘things to do’ and find kid-friendly places. Most likely you’ll come up with a handful of places to take your child on ‘field trips’ to.
Plan weekly trips and talk about what you saw during your outing. Maybe it’s a museum like I mentioned above. Or a nature reserve. Or the planetarium. Taking your child to field trips during the summer will help keep her engaged and learning new things.
Do daily worksheets.
Every day, my five-year-old and I do a worksheet together. We’ve incorporated this into his routine so that we work on it before bedtime. It only takes ten minutes, but it helps keep him learning all year long.
You can find free worksheets on Great Schools, Education.com and everywhere on Pinterest. And find challenging worksheets. Remember, breezing through easy worksheets isn’t something to celebrate. Encourage challenging work, effort and learning new things instead.
Check out my workbook, Letters and Numbers: A Handwriting Workbook to Help Your Child Recognize Letters and Numbers. Or sign up below to get sample worksheets and handouts about learning letters and numbers!
Inspire your child’s passions.
Has your child mentioned something he’s interested in? Encourage this passion. I’ll borrow books on random subjects my kids enjoy, from clouds to bridges to cars. We’ve also taken them to the planetarium to encourage their interest in outer space.
Passions are anything your child talks about or can’t stop playing with. Maybe you can visit the train museum for the child you can’t peel away from toy train tracks. Or the zoo for the child who loves reading about animals.
Be physically active.
Now that school is out, get your child moving, at least 60 minutes per day. It’s easy to stay cooped up at home or laze away the day. Find activities that will make your child to move. Being active helps improve her mental acuity and keep her feeling upbeat and healthy.
So turn on the music, play a game of chase or take the kids to the park. The physical activities will be a brain booster this summer.
Learn the history and geography of your summer trip.
Taking a summer vacation? Teach your kids the history and geography of your upcoming trip. Maybe you’re going to a national landmark, another city or even another country. Encourage your kids to learn its history and culture. Borrow books about your travel destination and even cook its local food.
Find learning activities to do with kids on Pinterest. Things that are fun as well as educational and can substitute what they’d learn if they were in school.
Don’t let summer waste away all that your child has learned during the school year. Include learning activities to keep your child sharp and ready to go back to school. Simple activities like reading and doing worksheets. Fun things like going on field trips and attending kid-related events. Summers can be a break from school, but don’t let it be a break from your child’s learning.
Get more tips on how to keep your child learning in the summer:
- 9 Strategies to Help Beginner Readers Build Strong Reading Habits
- Homework Mistakes You Should Definitely Avoid
- 6 Useful Back to School Tips for Parents and Kids
- Teach Your Child the Value of a Job Well Done
- 8 Long Term Benefits of Reading to Your Child
Your turn: What are your tips on how to keep your child learning in the summer? What activities do you plan to do to help them continue to learn during the summer? Let me know in the comments!