Plug Summer Brain Drain

summer skills booklets.jpg

As an adult, it’s easy for summer to become just another season spent in conditioned air, punctuated with a trip to the beach or a long-awaited vacation from the usual routine. Chances are you stay just as challenged with work, home projects, and volunteer/family obligations during the summer as you do with your pursuits during the rest of the year; in fact, with daylight stretching into evening hours, you likely schedule even more tasks into each day.

Since we grown-ups practice our life and learning skills every day, it’s easy to forget that kids can lose some of their hard-won fluency in math facts or language over the summer break. The classroom is designed to reinforce specific learning objectives; outside of that environment, it’s unlikely a kid will get to practice what they learned during the previous year without a concerted effort at home.

There are several resources for stopping summer brain drain. The first is the library, which not only has reading lists based on age and interest, but also has educational DVDs and computer-based games for check-out that can pass for entertainment. If there are too many distractions at home, stay there and use one of the public PCs, which will probably have time limits to equal your child’s attention span.

Booklets (pictured) based on grade are sold in the kids’ section at Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million and in educational supply stores. These are usually well-illustrated and have an assortment of word finds, puzzles, and problems and are less than $7.

Online there are many resources, but I caution you that some of them are just “sample” sights that require subscriptions or purchases. The best are those designed for educators, since they also explain the objectives and methodology behind the exercises. These require your time and involvement, so be realistic about when you have the energy and can be available to help.

Other fun options:

Allow them to find a route to a destination using a map (BirminghamMom Tip: Real estate booklets are great for this. They almost always include a simple fold-out map in the center. You can add a few landmarks like “our house,” “school,” etc. The booklets are free at almost any grocery store and at many restaurants.)

Have them make a summer scrapbook, including photos, ticket stubs, brochures and illustrations/captions they write.

Ask them to write a letter to a relative in another state updating them on what they’ve been doing and their plans for sports, scouting, etc. What grandparent or young cousin wouldn’t love to receive a letter in a child’s handwriting?

Visit any of our local museums; many offer supplementary educational guides. It doesn’t matter if the kids have visited already for a school field trip. In fact, I would encourage you to take your child again so that he can explore on his own this time, without the distractions of noisy friends and the chaperones herding and shushing.

Go with them to open a bank account. At an allowance of X, how many weeks will it take to have $75? $110?

Moms, get started now and you’ll almost have them conditioned for class by the time August rolls around.