The brain is a muscle: the more you exercise it, the bigger and more agile it gets and unfortunately, the opposite is also true if you don’t act to prevent summer brain drain.
Just as your muscles will atrophy from disuse, so to will you lose some of that brain power that you’ve worked so hard at building. Think of it this way: you must train really over a long period of time to run a 5k race.
You set a goal and you stick to a regimen of regular training to build up your endurance, stamina and strength. If you break your training regiment and take a few weeks or a few months off, you’ll find that when you hit the track you aren’t able to run nearly as fast or as long as you were during your more active training periods. The same thing will happen to students over the summer if you don’t prevent summer brain drain.
But you don’t need school to be in session in order to keep your mind sharp and your brain trained to prevent summer brain drain.
You can start a neighborhood summer time book club. Go to the local zoo to learn about new animals. Check out the local library for cool summer programs. Set up a lemonade stand and learn about finances (then make a trip to the bank to take the learning to the next level).
Challenge your child with active learning activities through problem solving. This summer, in order to prevent summer brain drain, when you decide the fence needs to be painted, don’t just give your child a chore to paint the fence. Create a challenge for him or her to prevent summer brain drain.
Give him a budget for the task that is slightly more than what you know it will cost to finish the job – say, $100.
Tell him that his task is to paint the fence. He must calculate the area to be painted (e.g. 100 square feet of fence), estimate the appropriate amount of paint (e.g. approximately 5 gallons), buy all the supplies (e.g. $12 per gallon plus brushes, rollers and pans) and then complete the task. Ideas like this will easily prevent summer brain drain.
Any change left over from the $100 is his to keep! This problem-based exercise will teach your child how to devise a plan and execute it efficiently. You should be actively involved in lending a hand, but don’t be afraid to let your child make mistakes.
When he does, be sure to take time to review where he may have miscalculated. It’s in the process of giving feedback where we learn the most!
Or try this one: the next time the family is planning on renting a movie or going to the theater, give the kids 2 or 3 choices to pick from. Have them make a case for which film the family should see based on the reviews from critics or other movie-goers – another simple way to prevent summer brain drain.
You can find reviews online or in your local paper in the movie section. This activity will challenge your child to do a bit of research, work on her critical reading skills and even require a bit of persuasive speaking skills!
Another fun activity for your next family outing might be to have your child create a travel budget for the family. Again, create a challenge and provide a reward. Let’s say the family trip is to the water park about 100 miles away.
Challenge your child to determine how much gas you will need to have in the tank to get to and from the water park based on your car’s miles per gallon (e.g. 20 mpg). Estimate how much the gas will cost.
So if your car gets approximately 30 miles per gallon and gas costs $4.25 per gallon and you need approximately 8 gallons to safely get to and from, what is the total? You can add twists and extra challenges such as calculating the estimated driving time (time = rate/distance).
These types of activities give your child a challenge to overcome – almost like a game! In order to be rewarded they must solve the problem presented to them. This creates motivation and will surely prevent summer brain drain.
And if done on a regular basis, these types of problem-based learning challenges can help keep your child’s brain trained and in shape and it helps to keep them in a rhythm of learning. Thus, you prevent summer brain drain.
The possibilities for keeping a positive brain-training regimen in place are endless. But the key is to establish the habit and to keep it going throughout each day of the summer. Partner with your neighbors and take turns coming up with challenges.
Challenge your child to help come up with ideas to learn more (hint: listen to them and pay attention to your child’s interests!
The activities above would be too difficult for a 4 or 5 year old and probably not hard enough for a 15 or 16 year old. An important thing to keep in mind when engaging your child with learning activities is to make sure it’s not too difficult.
If you want to prevent summer brain drain, make sure to make the activities age appropriate as well as exciting.
If the task is too hard it will only frustrate your child. If the task is too easy then they’ll solve the challenge in no time flat. A few resources that are great for providing age-specific learning activities are http://www.SmartMomActivities.com and https://PocketLiteracy.com and http://www.SMSPrep.com.
In the case of the former two, these sites provide parents with fresh, creative and fun activities that are developmentally appropriate. In the case of the latter, it sends test prep questions to your child’s phone. For all three of these, the activities are sent to your mobile devices.
The key to preventing summer brain drain is to maintain a training regimen – just like a runner or a baseball player or a pianist. If you don’t practice and if you don’t continually train your muscles for your sport, then you get rusty. The same is true with learning and developing your child’s intellect. You must maintain a positive training regimen and keep those positive learning habits going!
Founded by entrepreneur and college professor Dr. Chris Drew, Pocket Literacy Coach is an innovative mobile learning system designed to coach parents on how to educate their children. The system delivers daily text messages to cell phones with a short learning activity that parents can use with children to help them build their literacy skills. Research has proven that using educational text messages not only enhances parental involvement, but also helps parents make their children better readers.
Dr. Chris Drew, Founder
Dr. Chris Drew, founder of Pocket Literacy Coach (PLC), has nearly 10 years of education experience and has taught English reading and writing skills at colleges and universities across the nation. His publications and lectures on pedagogy and literacy education established Dr. Drew as a thought-leader in the education field.
Dr. Drew’s education and literacy expertise lead to the development of PLC in 2009. Targeting parents of children between the ages of two and 12, PLC provides parents with inexpensive, convenient and creative mobile learning activities for their kids and helps establish positive daily learning habits. He always goes the distance during the school year and the summer and presents unique activities to prevent summer brain drain as well.
In addition to developing PLC, Dr. Drew serves as president of Meta-Threads, a language curriculum and education clothing line that enhances language development in young children and increases vocabulary knowledge in young teens and adolescents. He is also an adjunct professor of English at Harold Washington College in Chicago and an expert in how to prevent summer brain drain.