The summer slide, brain drain, summer learning loss, it really doesn’t matter what you call it, the fact of the matter is that students basically log-off their brains during the summer months. So let us start with the research. It is suggested that two months of reading skills, and a shocking two to three months of math abilities are haemorrhaged during the summer months.
If we then consider the amount of content that is lost from all other subjects across the board, it is really no surprise that nine out of ten teachers are re-teaching the same material in September. These numbers coalesced over a child’s school career, means that by the time they have completed their GCSE’s they’ve lost the equivalent of two to three years of learning to summer slide. And furthermore, the loss is believed to be even greater when students are functioning at higher-grade levels!
So that’s the bad news, however, as is usual, there is hope in action!
Preventing Summer Slide—What You Can Do
Firstly, the most obvious, and evermore popular choice, includes harnessing the summer school experience. However, it is important that you first research the vast array of camps that exist globally. Finding a balance of physical activity, personal contact, and learning is key to defending against the slide.
For example, STEM camps not only keep children active, but challenge them and get them thinking about the bigger picture, bringing their brains back online, reusing and recalling knowledge, as well as challenging them with brand new ideas and concepts. If you have a child who loves computers, they may also be interested in building their own. A video game player, may also dream of becoming a game designer, and if not, they will at least be engaged and cognitively active. All good ideas, but there are several simple, yet highly effective things we can do to resist the summer slide, and in fact, put you on the offensive!
Turn Brain Drain into Brain Gain
- Daily Journal – Encourage and support your child in keeping a short daily journal of all they do over the summer, this can be remarkably rewarding for all members of the family.
- Reading – Reading is the most simple and most effective way to keep a child’s brain engaged, retaining and gaining.
- Get out and explore – The park, the forest, caves and beaches, it matters not, but it always has been – and always will, be a fundamental pillar of human learning and development, and something to write in your journal at the end of the day…. Neglect it at your peril!
- Cultural trips – Visit museums, galleries, the zoo, the aquarium or the planetarium. The brain will be stimulated and in use.
- Get crafty, get arty – cook, build a go-cart or tree-house, paint or write a song. The key is to avoid passiveness and keep the motor skills functioning as much as possible.
- Invest in the right kind of screen time – I want to end by saying screen time is not the enemy. But, it’s investing in the right kind of screen time that is the challenge. As a parent, aim to balance technology and life, but also, embrace the screen, embrace video games, embrace smartphones. They are tools as much as they are entertainment devices. With the right guidance and some creativity, a child’s smartphone can support with the activities I mentioned above. Try filming and making a video blog of your day exploring caves, or record a voice journal for the week, or indeed follow YouTube videos as an instruction guide of how to build your go-cart, tree house or to cook your favourite recipe!
Thanks for reading!