While summer break is a fun time packed with family activities it’s also when a phenomenon strikes that teachers know all too well—the “summer slide”—or the loss of knowledge and ability that occurs when formal education stops during the summer.
Research shows that all young people experience learning losses when they don’t engage in educational activities during the summer. In fact, the average student loses approximately 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency in math computation skills over the summer months. Teachers typically spend four weeks re-teaching or reviewing material that students have forgotten over summer break, according to the John Hopkins Center for Summer Learning.
“It doesn’t have to be that way,” says Adam Butler, co-owner and director, LearningRx Nashville-Brentwood. “While your brain is not a muscle, the adage ‘use it or lose it’ certainly holds true for your brain too. Mental exercise can keep the brain strong, just as physical exercise can keep the body strong.” To avoid the summer slide, Butler recommends brain games and exercises that target cognitive skills, the underlying skills needed to learn. “At LearningRx our intensive one-on-one brain training programs target these cognitive skills quickly and effectively to strengthen them,” says Butler. “But, to help slow the summer slide, there are fun games and activities parents can use with their kids that are perfect to play in the car, at home, or on vacation.”
Brain training experts at LearningRx offer the following ideas for parents to stimulate young minds and have fun this summer:
1.20 Questions – Think of a person or thing and give your child 20 chances to guess what it is by asking yes or no questions. Sharpens memory, logic and reasoning skills.
2.Rhyme Time – Have your child choose four rhyming words and use them to create a poem. For younger kids, simply say a word then take turns coming up with words that rhyme with it. Builds auditory analysis, verbal rhythm and memory.
3. Needle in a Haystack – Take a page from a newspaper and time your child as she circles all occurrences of a specific letter or word. Improves visual processing speed and sustained attention.
4.Counting Counts – Encourage your child to count by 2’s, 3’s, 4’s etc. when they go up stairs, dribble a basketball, swing on a swing set or jump rope.
Builds math fluency, processing speed, divided attention and memory.
“And don’t forget about reading,” says Butler. “Simply getting your child to read everyday is another powerful way to slow the summer slide.”