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Prevent Summer Brain Drain Now!

Friday, June 16, 2023

Desk calendars at House of Doolittle

We hear terminology tossed around schools and education, but one that gains traction when classes end for the academic year is the concept of summer brain drain, summer learning loss, and summer slide. This is a phenomenon where students experience a decline or loss of academic skills and knowledge over the summer break. During the extended period away from school, without regular academic engagement or structure scheduled in planners, students may experience a regression in their learning and intellectual progress.   

Summer brain drain can affect various academic areas, including reading comprehension, math skills, vocabulary development, and critical thinking abilities. Research suggests that students who do not engage in educational activities during the summer may experience a loss of up to two months' worth of learning.  

Factors contributing to summer brain drain include a lack of structured learning documented in an academic calendar and implemented throughout the school year, reduced exposure to educational materials, limited access to books and resources, and decreased academic reinforcements. Additionally, the absence of daily academic routines, such as classroom instruction and homework assignments, can contribute to the decline in skills.  

It is important to note that the extent of summer brain drain can vary among students. Younger children and students from disadvantaged backgrounds may be more susceptible to its effects. However, all students can benefit from continued educational engagement and enrichment activities during the summer break.  

Addressing summer brain drain involves providing opportunities for students to engage in educational activities, maintain reading habits, participate in hands-on learning experiences, and explore areas of interest. By actively combating summer brain drain, students can retain their academic skills, build on previous knowledge, and be better prepared for the coming year. Parents and students can take proactive steps to avoid the summer slide. Below are some strategies they can employ throughout the summer.  

Preventing Summer Brain Drain Best Practices 

Establish a Reading Routine. Create a reading routine where students are encouraged to read books of their choice that align with their interests. Set aside specific times for independent reading, family reading, or book clubs each day. Make sure that visits to the local public library are scheduled and allow students to check out books they want to read. Many libraries, bookstores, and community centers also offer activities encouraging students to read.      

Schedule Educational Trips and Excursions. End-of-the-year conversations parents have with teachers may provide insight into the next school year's curriculum. Find out if anything the students will be studying aligns with local museums, science centers, or historical sites. If not, enjoy these destinations anyhow because they will always have something new and exciting to learn. Engage students in active learning by discussing exhibits, use laminated maps to identify places in the world where they could take a "virtual field trip," ask the experts questions, and encourage them to share their observations, insights, and feelings.   

Explore Online Learning Resources. Online educational platforms, including those on computers, tablets, and smartphones, offer many interactive and engaging learning experiences. Students can select the educational opportunities that interest them and engage with them at their own pace.   

Seek Out Math and Problem-Solving Activities. Your student’s daily routines can include puzzles, board games, cooking or baking, measuring and estimating, or playing online math games. It is important to make these activities fun while reinforcing key mathematical concepts.   

Encourage Writing and Journaling. Invite your student to write creatively, maintain a summer journal, or start a blog. Writing stories, essays, and poetry or keeping a record of their summer experiences can improve their writing skills and foster self-expression. Building exceptional reading and writing skills connects with success in other subjects.  

Offer STEM Projects, Activities, and Experiments. Encourage students to engage in hands-on science, technology, and math projects and experiments. Numerous resources available online provide detailed instructions and ideas for age-appropriate activities.   

Learn through Hobbies and Interests. All students should be encouraged to explore and pursue the subjects that interest them and hobbies they may want to try. Whether art, music, coding, sports, or any other passion, engaging in these activities can stimulate their minds and foster a love for continuous learning.  

Limit Screen Time. While technology can offer valuable educational resources and activities, setting limits on screen time and encouraging a balanced lifestyle are essential. Ensure there are ample opportunities to play outside, schedule social interactions with friends and family, and keep other forms of non-digital entertainment available.   

Encourage Community Responsibility and Engagement. It is valuable for students to engage in activities that are not about them but about offering help to the community in which they live. Assist your students in finding opportunities to give back, like volunteering at an animal shelter, working at a community garden, or reading books to little ones at the library. These are fulfilling and beneficial activities that help to build empathy, work ethic, and compassion.  

Share a desk calendar or planner with your student and schedule fun yet educational activities throughout the summer. By implementing these strategies, parents and students can actively combat summer brain drain and ensure that the summer break is a time for continued growth, exploration, and intellectual development.