The “summer slide” may sound like fun, but it’s definitely something you’ll want to keep your kids far away from this summer! It’s a phenomenon teachers know all too well – the loss of knowledge and ability that typically occurs when formal education stops during the summer months.
by Terri Clark, Learning Rx
In many ways, the brain is like a muscle and the old adage “use it or lose it” certainly holds true. Mental training can improve the brain, just as physical exercise can improve the body. So, here are some tips to keep your kids from “losing it” over summer break.
Simply getting your child to read every day is a great way to slow the summer slide. According to Scholastic Parents Online, research shows that reading just six books during the summer may keep a struggling reader from regressing. When choosing the six, make sure they’re the right level – not too hard and not too easy.
Many other simple, easy and fun activities can help keep kids off the summer slide, and possibly even make school easier for them when they return. These exercises keep the brain energized while building cognitive skills – the underlying mental abilities needed to learn. Some of these activities incorporate physical elements, some are perfect games to play in the car and some are a great alternative to a video game when your child is simply too hot, too tired or too sunburned to play outside.
When playing games with kids, parents should focus on seven major learning skills: attention, working memory, processing speed, long-term memory, logic and reasoning, auditory processing and visual processing.
HEAR ARE SOME LOW-COST, STORE-BOUGHT BRAIN GAMES:
Simon ] The original echo game, Simon is great for auditory processing, memory and processing speed.
Slapjack ] This age-old card game helps with divided attention, processing speed, short-term memory and visual processing.
Legos ] They’re not exactly cheap, but chances are you already have some! Legos are excellent for deductive reasoning, planning and problem solving.
HER ARE SOME NO-COST, HOME-CREATED GAMES AND ACTIVITIES:
20 Questions ] Think of a person or object and give your child 20 chances to narrow down what you’re thinking of by asking yes or no questions. To help them improve their logic and reasoning, teach them to strategize by using questions that will significantly narrow down the categories, such as “Are they alive?” or “Do we have one at our house?” This is excellent for logic, reasoning and memory.
Rhyme Time ] Have your child choose four rhyming words and use them to create a poem. For younger kids, simply say a word, and then take turns coming up with words that rhyme with it. This helps with auditory analysis, verbal rhythm and memory.
Needle in a Haystack ] Take a page from a newspaper or magazine and time your child as she circles all occurrences of a specific letter. Identify which sound symbols are more easily found than others and focus on increasing both accuracy and speed. Needle in a Haystack is great for visual processing speed and sustained attention.
- The U.S. Department of Education reports that, on average, children are set back by 25 percent in reading skills each summer.
- The average student loses approximately 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency in math computation skills over the summer months.
- Research shows all young people experience learning losses when they don’t engage in educational activities during the summer.
- Teachers typically spend four to six weeks re-teaching or reviewing material that students have forgotten over summer break.
DREAM BIG – READ
Help make sure your child reads at least six books by participating in one of the Summer Library Programs held at each of Brevard’s 17 public libraries. This year’s theme is “Dream Big – Read.” Programming is held in June and July for school-age children. Other programs are available for toddlers and pre-schoolers. A teen program, “We Own the Night,” will be featured at many of the libraries. Contact your nearest library for individual program dates and times.