Teachers in Knoxville offer strategies on helping to prevent summer learning loss among students.

Visits to local historical sites can help gain students’ interest in history, says Jada McManus, a special-education teacher at Carter High School. McManus also recommends online resources such as SpellingCity and Discovery Education

Summer learning loss. Summer slide. Brain drain. Amnesia. It’s called different things but adds up to the same thing: Young brains slow down during the long, lazy days of summer, causing some kids to backslide, forgetting valuable math and reading skills.

No need to crack open the textbooks. Local educational experts have tips and tricks parents can sneak into the family summer schedule to keep kids of all ages from falling behind.

“One great thing over the summer is to have projects,” suggests Mike O’Hern, director of math learning center Mathnasium of West Knoxville, “such as building a model and studying nature and making a chart. There are all kinds of ways to sneak math in.”

Here are a few tips & tricks to help prevent summer learning loss:

Play games

O’Hern believes few children today know card games. “The idea of playing with dice and cards is amazing in terms of the brain,” he says. “With Blackjack you’re considering odds, adding up and comparing numbers. Games, such as checkers, chess or card games, involve probability and problems. Even if it’s not working on the square root, it’s still going to help keep that brain working.”

Throughout the summer, students drop into the center for just an hour twice a week to play games and work on math exercises. “Any work that they can do over the summer helps. It doesn’t have to be a lot,” explains O’Hern. 

Go online

Lisa Sexton, a sixth grade social studies teacher at Bearden Middle School, says the school provides a link to “Study Island” on their website, on which students can find educational games. “It’s a great review tool,” she adds. “Schools are open until June 7, just call the school and ask about online resources.”

She also advises keeping the pace slow and relaxed for best results.

Go places

Sexton recommends local field trips to places such as the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge and Smoky Mountains’ history fairs. “They have play areas,” she says. “And, they don’t feel like they’re there to learn.”

Parents can also throw in something educational during family vacation. “Even if you’re going to Disney World, you can talk about the changes in the topography and look for historical markers and cool places,” Sexton says. “It doesn’t have to be big, just little things they learn are the things that stick with them.”

A step further

Sally Bishop, a third-grade teacher at Thackston School suggests looking for books with tie-in activities at your local bookstore or library.

“For example the classic series of books by Laura Ingles Wilder,” says Bishop. “There’s a cookbook that goes along with this series. Preparing the recipes together helps practice reading, following instructions and measuring using fractions.”

She also recommends Roald Dahl’s “Revolting Recipes” or a book with a related craft project.

Mind games

Slip in some mental math while you run errands. Quiz them on how much a tank of gas will cost. Or on a car trip, turn off the GPS. “Estimation is a great math skill,” explains Bishop. “Ask them approximately how many miles to a point and use road maps to find your location.”

Summer blockbuster

Continue reading this article by Ali James at KnoxNews.com