By Dr. Judith Zenna-Valgento
Summer is here, and students of all ages look forward to spending their days relaxing and recharging, leaving behind the busy schedules the school year brings. Yet, during the carefree hours of summer, students often forget many of the things they learned over the course of the year. They experience learning loss, or what is commonly called “summer brain drain”.
However, there is hope, and summer brain drain can be avoided. Students can remain mentally active through the summer and increase their chances of retaining the information they need to succeed during the next school year. Staying engaged can be fun and rewarding for both students and parents. Summer activities to prevent brain drain can help keep the whole family learning through the summer months. The following tips should provide a few ideas to keep students learning all summer long:
Read – Never underestimate the power of reading to stimulate the mind. Reading is one of the easiest ways to keep students’ brains active during the summer. It’s not as important what students are reading, as long as they do it. For younger students, reading stories aloud could help them improve reading comprehension and expand their vocabulary. Forming a family book club could also be a great way to connect and discus books together. Many local libraries also have summer reading clubs students can join.
Vacation – Plan vacations together as a family. Empowering students to make decisions about an upcoming vacation can benefit everyone and ensure students are invested in enjoying the trip. Encourage students to plan an itinerary, follow a budget and delegate assignments to the rest of the family. It will require time to guide and manage the process, but the rewards for students could include new skills in math, organization and leadership.
Household – Consider helping students learn responsibilities of running a household. Students can plan, budget and cook dinner once a week. Work with him or her to design and manage a garden, organize a neighborhood club or even plan a family outing. The key is not to create the perfect household or garden, but to teach life skills and self-management.
Museums – Museums are a fantastic forum for learning where students can get a taste for art, science, natural history or even pop culture. Stretch the minds of every member of the family by not only visiting a local museum, but encourage students to participate in the audio tours or specific activities available to kids. Spending time learning together will pay off in huge dividends for students and the entire family.
Movie Festivals – Many movie theaters hold movie festivals over the summer months at reduced prices. These festivals are great opportunities for young students to learn about culture where he or she may be exposed to interesting movies from the past. Think outside of the usual summer fare and find films that will enrich students’ minds.
Summer School – Summer school is an excellent way for students to stay sharp and get a jump on the coming school year. Many students who take summer school may have a more relaxed school year and can find time for that additional elective that just didn’t fit into the schedule before. Summer school can also help build specific study or academic skills or help a student stay on track for graduation.
Preventing summer brain drain will require extra time and preparation, but the results are worth the effort. Activities don’t have to be expensive, and coming up with fun, new ways to spend time together as a family can keep everyone energized and engaged throughout the summer months.
About the Author: Dr. Judith Zenna-Valgento is the Campus Director at Brightmont Academy in Deer Valley, a private school that specializes in providing one-to-one instruction for each student. For more information, please visit www.brightmontacademy.com, call 623-738-0710 or email Judith Zenna-Judith.ZV@brightmontacademy.com.