Summer vacation: does it fry our kids' brains? That's the worry behind summertime "brain drain," or the loss of academic skills while school's out. Kids spend months lolling around in the pool or in front of the TV, while the previous year's education seeps out of their ears.
Tomorrow, I'm going to be interviewed on this topic for the ABC News Now program Moms Get Real, and I would love to include your opinions along with mine.
I hesitate to skew the conversation too far, but it seems to me that "learning loss" is a misleading term. Sure, kids may get rusty on a few skills — they might forget how to factor, or how to spell certain vocabulary words. But learning loss? I don't think so. Summer gives kids the time, space, and activity level to rev up their brains and integrate what they've learned throughout the school year. I would argue that, as sleep is a crucial part of the learning process, so is the learning modality break summer provides. (Not just summer; kids in year-round school get breaks, too.)
Which is not to say kids should sit for weeks, slack-jawed, in front of a screen. There are hundreds of ways kids can "learn" over the summer, most free and all fun. Here are just a few:
- Active play and exercise
- Time in nature
- Library reading programs
- Hours of social time with friends and neighbors
- Construction projects
- Camps, classes and summer sports teams
- Exploring the neighborhood on foot or bike
- Travel (all travel is educational)
- Cooking projects
- Board games
- Summer jobs (including those at home)
I'm getting a calligraphy book and a set of pens for my daughter who's having trouble with her lettering, and we're going to spend afternoons making fancy cards and magical scrolls…and practicing her writing. I don't see it as "combating brain drain." I see it as "brain building," as I do most everything else my kids do over the summer, even if it has nothing to do with school.
What about you? How to you help your kids keep their academic skills strong during the summer?
Leave your comments here, and I'll do my best to include them in my interview tomorrow.
If you're game, submit a video offering your advice and you may appear on the program along with me!
- Casual, camera phone videos are just fine!
- 30 seconds or less
- Email your video submission to producer Katie Slaman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Deadline: Monday, June 13, 2011.