Have you heard of summer learning loss? Brain drain? The Summer Effect? It is a well-documented fact that kids lose a lot of their learning during the summer months.
So while we love suntans, sleeping in, and days spent at the pool, park, etc. we need to do something to put a stopper in the learning loss. Stop the brain drain, and send kids back to school with fun memories, but also as much information from the previous school year retained as possible.
Stats show kids can lose as much as one third of the information they learned in the previous school year during the summer.
One third! Ouch! That stat scares me to death. What is the point of sending my kids off every year if I am going to let them lose a third of it during the summer?
It is scary, but there are some things you can do to lessen the impact and stop summer learning loss. I have come up with five things that work for me and my kids, and I hope they will work for your kids too:
Make it fun!
We are kind of an on-the-go family, and I definitely don’t want to do worksheets during the summer, and neither do my kids. But learning does not have to be done in a worksheet form.
Learning can be, and should be fun! We learn by going to museums, zoos, aquariums, etc. We have (at least) 7 potential places within an hour of our house. There is an aerospace museum, aquarium, zoo, dinosaur museum, Museum of Natural Curiosity, Children’s museum, and probably many more that I am not thinking of.
We can learn through visits, and it can be tons of fun and educational. We can do theme weeks, visit the library, and learn before we go, while we are there, and talk about it after.
Have a plan!
I can’t say it enough: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
I realized if I want my kids to be consistent with learning all summer, it had to start with me. I like having an outline with some flexibility. Here is an example of what I mean:
- Make something Monday– On Mondays we can do some kind of science project. We made Kool Aid Play Dough this week, which I will share soon.
- Talk About It Tuesday– This is the day we journal what we have been doing. They document their week with writing, pictures, drawing, video clips, etc. I want my kids to keep a journal, and practice handwriting and writing skills, so Tuesday they do this.
- Work it out Wednesday– This is a day where we do something more structured, like a worksheet. I give the kids a math problem set, or some kind of assignment they have to workout.
- Think About it Thursday– This is a day for thinking. They think up a project or idea, and then create it. We do trivia, and ask silly questions. We learn new vocab. And they come up with the science projects for Monday.
- Field Trip Friday– A day where we go somewhere and do something fun, but that is often educational. How about the library, one of those mentioned museums, an art exhibit, or even a park?
Obviously if a strict schedule is better for you, do that, but this is what works for us!
Make it a family affair
One of the best ways to get my kids learning and not complaining is to make it fun for the whole family. We can read books together, practice our French together (maybe by watching a movie in French), choose a subject and learn about it together.
Last summer each family member got to pick a topic they wanted to learn about, and we learned together. My daughter chose cats, so we started with library books about cats, we drew pictures of cats, and then we visited a pet shop and held cats. It was a great family activity.
This can be done in a variety of ways, so get creative. This can be fun in the kitchen doing math while making cookies (double the recipe), building something in the garage (pinewood derby cars), growing a garden together.
Coming up with stimulating activities and learning five days a week can be a little overwhelming, especially when kids are home all day needing attention.
The beautiful thing is you really don’t have to do it alone. Find some other parents with similar aged kids and team up. You can switch off weeks for planning field trips or doing learning activities, or taking kids to the library.
This makes it easier on everyone, and kids love to socialize!
Integrate learning into daily life
Make learning fun and part of daily life. This is so easy to customize to what your family does and needs, and the level your kids are at.
- Have a word of the day to teach vocab, and use it during the day.
- Practice math by letting kids manage money, set budgets, count change, etc.
- Play learning games. When kids ask for screen time, you can let them spend some of it doing activities for learning such as websites. We love Raz Kids, Bookadventure, Fun 4 the Brain, etc.
- Read stories that challenge kids, and discuss them at bed time.
- Encourage reading all day, ask kids to read and write your shopping list, to read bill boards, instructions.
- Have a quiet hour each day where the kids have to write out anything they want to say or ask.
There are lots of ways to keep kids learning. If I had to narrow it down I would say the top 3 things you can do are:
- Keep them reading. Read to them, have them read to themselves, visit the library regularly.
- Keep them writing. Have them keep a summer journal. Ask them to write lists for you. Write stories you can read together.
- Keep them thinking. Learning does not have to be formal, but push them, ask them questions, help them be curious and looking for answers. Don’t just visit an aquarium or zoo, learn about the animals.
What do you do to stop the learning loss?