Have you heard of Summer Brain Drain? It’s the loss of learning that occurs in children over the summer break from school. There’s lots of research that shows that this is a real phenomenon – on average, students lose a whole month’s worth of learning over the break. Some students lose as much as three months’ worth of learning and the areas most affected by this loss are maths, reading and spelling. To combat Brain Drain, teachers tend to spend between two and four weeks at the start of the new Autumn term reteaching what was learned during the previous year.
It’s a depressing thought, but there is good news – there are some positive steps you can take this summer to minimise or even eradicate the loss for your child, without them feeling like they are missing out on their summer break.
Top Ten Tips to Beat Brain Drain
1. Reading just six books over the break helps retain what was learned the previous year. That’s just one book a week! It’s important that the child can choose from a selection of books, so do make sure that they have plenty available. One option it to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge at your local library. Another option is to check out this fantastic selection of children’s books (and get 20% discount for your trouble!)
2. Do include books that reinforce learning concepts, especially number concepts. Many children’s books have numbers hidden away in the story, so this isn’t as difficult as it may first appear.
3. Encourage reflection on the books that your child reads. This short book report sheet can help (very short!)
4. Unpack the books through discussion and connected activities, such as a scavenger hunt of things found in the book.
5. Elizabeth of Where Roots and Wings Entwine suggests getting involved in the National Trust’s Fifty Things To Do Before You’re 11 3/4. It is a great platform for children to learn about nature and science in particular, it is also a fun, physical activity for children which will keep them entertained.
6. Elizabeth also recommends encouraging your child to start a collection – coins, rocks, shells, stamps etc. Organising their collection requires a lot of skills and their collection could spark further learning on the theme of their collection – i.e. with coins they could learn about the history of the coins and with rocks they could learn about the science behind rocks.
7. Over on Family Fever, Lisa suggests children who are old enough can research where to go for a day out, including how to get there and how much it will cost to combine several sets of skills into one activity, whilst Rachel from Parenthood Highs and Lows recommends getting crafty by helping children create a scrapbook about their day out.
8. Incorporating essential skills into your holiday can beat the brain drain whilst still having fun. Download this free beach activity – it includes collecting, identifying and sorting shells as well as a great craft.
9. All children love to bake, Joanne from Joanne Dewberry suggests including maths into baking for those who are old enough. When I bake with Bean, I often ask him to double or quadruple the quantities in the recipe I give him. Of course, there’s also the weighing and measuring to be done.
10. Finally, Ashley of Views from an Urban Lake suggests getting out and about in nature. He lists 15 wildlife activities you can do with the children, many of which will incorporate maths and language skills. Some of my favourite suggestions are Geocaching (if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know how much we love Geocaching in this family!) and fruit picking – both of which are fun and have loads of learning opportunities built in!
So, what things might you do to combat Brain Drain this Summer? I’d love to hear what you get up to.