Do you want to keep your brain active during the summer, and learn how to avoid summer learning loss?
HowtoLearn.com expert, Jack Tai, CEO of One Class, shares how to find out the top five ways to keep your brain active during summer break and avoid summer learning loss.
Jack asks, “Did you know that if you don’t keep your brain active during summer vacation, your grades could slip”?
As early as 1906, researchers had identified a phenomenon called summer learning loss where students’ grades are higher at the end of the spring semester than they are at the beginning of the fall semester.
Across all students, it’s estimated that this summer slide causes students to fall back the equivalent of one month.
The effect is more profound in math class, where students lose the equivalent of 2.6 months. The best way to avoid summer learning loss is to keep your brain active during summer vacation.
Similar to how exercising your muscles can preserve your strength, exercising your brain can help your cognition.
These top five cognitive exercises can help high school and college students keep their brain active during summer vacation.
- Learn a New Skill
Picking up a new skill during summer vacation can be a great way to keep your brain active and engaged. Maybe you want to learn a new programming language, a foreign language, a piece of software, or a musical instrument.
Even if your new skill isn’t immediately relevant to your career focus, it could have an unexpected benefit.
Consider how Steve Jobs’ basic typography studies eventually led to today’s design-focused technology.
There’s also a strong crossover between STEM students and musicians, as the two disciplines can have a complementary effect. For example, Brian May of Queen was also a Ph.D. physicist.
Longstanding research shows that games and puzzles are linked to better brain performance.
The effect of games is so strong that older adults who regularly do word puzzles have brain performance that’s equivalent to peers who are a decade younger.
The effect of brain games is more than staving off cognitive decline. Games can improve attention, reasoning, and memory and help you improve your grades plus avoid summer learning loss.
Brain-training apps such as Lumosity can be a good place to start, or you could play chess, Sudoku, trivia, or other games that help you engage your brain.
- Take a Class
Do you need some structure to help you keep your brain active during the summer? If so, try signing up for a class.
Many free courses are available online through MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) platforms, some of which are even taught by top college professors. You can also sign up for a local class at a community college to avoid summer learning loss.
Depending upon your situation, you may even be able to transfer these credits to a degree program. Plenty of other learning platforms exist as well, such as Skillshare, Codecademy, Lynda, and Khan Academy.
Taking a free class can help you avoid summer learning loss and keep your brain active!
Summer reading may be assigned to you when you’re a younger student.
However, all students can take a self-directed approach to their summer reading list to seek out information and options that spark their interest to avoid summer learning loss.
Engagement is the primary goal, so the books can dovetail with your existing studies or can be on a different topic altogether.
If you need inspiration, suggested reading lists are widely available.
Bill Gates puts out a reading list every year, as does the New York Times.
You can also get local recommendations from your indie bookstore or collegiate recommendations from UC-Berkeley’s annual summer reading list.
- Prep for the SAT or GRE
Whether you’re a high school student preparing for college or a college student preparing for graduate school, summer vacation can be a prime opportunity to prepare for your entrance exams.
Not only will this keep your brain active, helping you to avoid summer learning loss, but it can also contribute to your larger education goals.
During the school year, it can be difficult to juggle exam preparation with your classwork. That’s why summer is a great opportunity to focus on standardized tests.
The time you put into studying can yield great results.
A general rule of thumb for GRE prep is that for every 40 hours you study, you could raise your score by five points. Therefore, if you studied one hour per day for 10 weeks, your GRE score could improve by 8.75 points!
Learning is changing, and today’s online resources can help you optimize your education.
Jack Tai is the CEO and Co-founder of OneClass. Visit the site to find out more about how this online tool has helped 90% of users improve by a letter grade.
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