I remember previous summers where my mom (shout out to mums), would encourage me to read or attend camps in fear of me ‘losing it’; and by ‘it’ I mean the skills learnt during the previous academic year. Unknowingly, mum was onto something ground-breaking! Something researched and scientifically proven. They call it, Summer Brain Drain.
“Over the course of summer vacation, students lose between 2 to 2 ½ months of math skills from the previous year’s learning. This loss of computational understanding is experienced by children regardless of their background or family income. Some students also experience significant setbacks in reading ability as well. Students with a low socioeconomic status can lose up to three months of reading skills in just 2-3 months of summer break.”
So why is a scientifically proven fact, so hard to combat? The issue lies in presentation, presentation, presentation. How summer learning is presented to us- the child by you- the parent ultimately determines if there will be smooth sailing, with both parties working together harmoniously (synergy); or a conversation about fractions with your 9 year old could potentially unfold like a doomsday prequel.
Let me, a young lass, who tried to avoid summer learning, help you Mums and Dads with 5 researched hacks on how to make summer learning enjoyable and possible! So they won’t lose ‘it’ while you impart healthy habits for life unto them.
HACK#1: LEAD BY EXAMPLE
A true leader teaches his disciples how to live a better life through his own; in essence, one must lead by example, especially a parent who wants his child to have healthy habits or lifestyle practises.
You can’t always enforce the “Do as I say, not as I do” rule, as it is sometimes ineffective, you have to start living as well as doing what you preach if you want us, kids to harken unto your commandments. We have to ‘model the life we want our kids to live’. The following guidelines rely on you mums and dads to actually participate, so they can be effective when enforced.
Kids need to see that you are with them on the path of summer learning.
Can you think of any great leaders who led by example? Comment and let us know!
HACK #2: TRY 30 MINUTES OF DAILY READING
Each and every day is a reading day! The key is to not always force your child into the activity but start off by doing it yourself. Continuing from Hack #1, sometimes you can turn off the TV and instead, take turns reading a book with your kids or try reading the newspaper at breakfast with your kids.
Perhaps you can tell them to read the instructions off of a label, take advantage of readablemoments. All you have to do is encourage them to read anything and everything! Have “Word of The Week Challenge”, where you give them a word and they have to try to incorporate it into everyday speech.
Check out libraries in your area also, as they usually have reading sessions once a week for minors. This allows children to meet and interact with others their own age.
Lastly, if all else fails, you still run the show, so make them do it.
HACK #3: LET THEM BE YOUR LITTLE CHEF
Take this summer to let your child find his or her own identity in the kitchen. Cooking is not only a skill they’ll need to survive in life, it connects them to their culture, family traditions, other family members, strengthens relationships and in addition; it’s really fun.
The kitchen is also a great place to do math. E.g. Ask them to solve how many ingredients you would use if you have to make four servings instead of one.
Of course, based on your child’s (or children’s) age(s) supervision will be required but this should not be seen as a disadvantage! Why? Look at Guideline numero cuatro.
HACK #4: SPEND SOME TIME WITH YOUR KIDS
It may not seem like it, your kids, actually do want to hang out with you. They want to know that you care, that you love them and that you care about their thoughts. But first, they have to see that you care enough to listen. When you listen to them, ask questions. When you ask questions, let what they say imprint itself upon your mind, discern their likes and dislikes and find every opportunity to share with them about your day. They want to know what it’s like to be an adult too and most importantly about the real you.
This joyous exchange not only reinforces the bond between parent and child, it builds the memory of children; by making them recall their routine.
In addition to this, simple activities like driving in the car can be used as an opportunity to reinforce their memory. Memory Games like remembering the different names of streets along the way to your destination can be played.
It might seem simple but it has long-term advantages.
HACK #5: “FIND AN AGE APPROPRIATE INTEREST FOR YOUR CHILD”
It’s important to know what your child likes or may even be potentially interested in. You might just discover unknown activities that could lead to their development. The trick is to keep them engaged and interacting, not just cooped up at home all day with video games or the TV.
I remember when my mum sent me to a computer camp. I had no interest in IT, at the end of it I came out with three new friends, met amazing tutors, had an educational summer and lastly, my group came 3rd in the inter-camp competition.
I’m not saying it has to be IT, or acting, or a writing camp or an arts camp, it can be about bicycles, karate or cars, or even how to make gaming into a profitable career…Learning can be about anything!
Here is a tip, be open to letting your child explore uncommon avenues. Try to foster all creative pursuits. It will be worth it.
So let’s recap. You have to lead by example so we can follow; you’ve got to take advantage of any readable moments. Additionally you not only have to allow them some independence to try new things but you have to be encouraging and supportive along the way.
Keep your head up mums and dads!
Happy Summer Learning!
Comment your thoughts or leave updates on how these summer learning hacks have helped you. Tell a fellow parent too.
Jovona Johnson Staff Blogger
Jovona is many things, including a walking contradiction. She likes change but loathes it at the same time. As a young writer, for the last 2 years Jovona has been using this outlet as a way of written expression to influence her audience and communicate her innermost thoughts, She is a feminist and a Christian (yes it’s possible) and wants more than anything to give back by allowing people a safe space to speak their mind. In a nutshell, she is trying to be the best at anything she sets her heart to