Photo: istockphoto.com

When it comes to summer break, school is usually the last thing on a child’s mind. Instead, family trips and playtime with friends take priority, leaving little room for interest in learning during the warmer months. Unfortunately, research shows placing education on the back-burner for even one season is detrimental to a child’s retention of previously learned material. Experts say summer learning loss, or “summer brain drain,” is a phenomenon that results in teachers spending the first three to four weeks of the new school year re-teaching material from the year before. Luckily, there are countless ways to combat learning loss throughout the summer. Here are a few of our favorite ideas:

Turn new adventures into exciting learning opportunities. Take fun trips to local zoos, science museums, and other venues that stimulate thought and learning. Your child will have the chance to explore and discover new topics while simultaneously reinforcing what he or she has learned throughout the year. Ask your child to read the plaques present at each exhibit, and to relay the information to you. Encourage him or her to perform simple math like counting or comparing amounts, by asking questions like, “How many more zebras than giraffes do you see?”

Make learning part of your family’s daily routine. Sit with your child while he or she solves one to three math problems each morning, or finishes a 15-minute reading session. Use stickers or other small items as completion rewards.

Make trips to the library a weekly outing, and encourage your child to choose more-challenging books as the summer continues. Find out if there are any library events or reading groups your child can participate in over the break.

For quick, on-the-go learning, keep vocabulary and math flashcards on hand, and download educational games to your mobile devices. These tools will transform idle moments into valuable learning opportunities for your child.

Find creative ways to incorporate math. Studies claim that children tend to lose more mathematical proficiency than reading proficiency during summer vacation. To combat this, try to practice math whenever possible.

Using math in the kitchen is a fun way to reinforce simple concepts. Ask your child to assist you with cooking or setting the table. He or she can practice measuring ingredients, adding/subtracting amounts, determining serving numbers, etc. Or, at the grocery store, have your child determine correct change amounts and help him or her understand how pricing works.

When trying out these strategies, remember to keep conversation active and open. Ensure that your child is comprehending what he or she is reading or solving by observing his or her work and asking questions throughout. The best way to keep “summer brain drain” at bay is by staying engaged in your child’s summer learning – this way, you can easily identify areas of confusion and help him or her work through them quickly.

_____________

Want to share your stories? Sign up to become a Spoke contributor!