This post is sponsored by Brain Chase, a summer learning challenge like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Read on for details, plus a special discount code for Parent Hacks readers.
I’ve long held that “summer brain drain” is an academic problem, not a learning problem.
Summer learning — open-ended, active, exploratory — is harder to measure but just as valuable as classroom learning.
That said, most kids lose academic ground over the summer. For some, it’s a non-issue — they get back up to speed quickly enough. But for kids who struggle with academics, having to re-learn material adds stress to the already packed back-to-school season.
It makes sense, then, for kids to keep the academic wheels greased over the summer.
The Internet is teeming with online learning tools. But the question during the summer is: how do you motivate a kid to work on her academics if she’s desperate for a break?
- You make the experience fun and exciting.
- You give her autonomy.
- You connect what she’s learning to the real world.
- You crank up the energy with an amazing prize.
Brain Chase Summer Learning Challenge: What It Is
Brain Chase is a five-week online summer learning challenge for 2nd through 8th graders presented as a massive global treasure hunt.
Kids complete an hour of online learning each day to unlock original animated webisodes that hold clues to the location of a real, gold-plated, mechanical treasure buried somewhere on Earth.
The first person to pinpoint the location of the treasure wins a trip to that location to dig it up. (Last year it was Spain.)
Once the winner opens the treasure, the real prize is revealed: a $10,000 college scholarship.
We’re talking Indiana Jones-level cool.
Before I continue, you should know: I’m not easily impressed by educational technology. Most of it is cheesy and patronizing (calling something a “learning game” is a dealbreaker for many kids).
But I’m totally sold on the quality and sheer adventure of this program — so much that I’m running around telling everyone I know about it (and why I agreed to this sponsorship).
Why I’m Totally Into Brain Chase
A few reasons I’m excited about Brain Chase:
The treasure hunt is truly challenging, and family collaboration is a big part of the experience.
Kids do their own academic work, but Brain Chase encourages families to hunt for the treasure together. Which means this is more than enriching — but solo — screen time; it’s real-world adventure learning that promotes togetherness, conversation and teamwork.
Listening to last year’s winners talk about the experience brought the family collaboration home to me…this looks like so much fun to do together.
The learning activities use proven education tools.
We’re not talking worksheets or busywork. The Brain Chase founders curated online learning tools already proven to work: Khan Academy for math and the MyON digital library for reading. Written journal entries receive feedback from credentialed teachers. Bonus challenges span art, science, geography, and more.
Kids are rewarded for work, not level.
If your kid needs to practice division, but mine wants to learn algebra, fine. If yours reads 25 pages in an hour, but mine reads five, fine. It all works within the Brain Chase framework.
Timing is flexible.
The treasure hunt kicks off on June 22, 2015. Your kids can log on every day for five weeks, or they can catch up on weeks they miss.
The founders are cool.
This matters! If Brain Chase were some corporate techno-program I wouldn’t be nearly as into it.
Allan and Heather Staker are a husband-and-wife team and parents of five kids. He’s also a filmmaker (so knows how to craft a great story) and she’s a researcher (so understands the educational data behind effective online learning programs). I was on a briefing call with Allan and Heather and their commitment and excitement was so infectious, I couldn’t help but get excited myself.
Brain Chase Discount Code: 15% Off for Parenthackers
Brain Chase is open for Early Bird registration right now. But Parent Hacks readers get an additional 15% discount bringing the price down to $127 through April
Each Brain Chase registration comes with:
- 5 weeks of customized, structured challenges on external reading and math websites, all of which is organized and tracked through the Brain Chase dashboard
- Weekly writing exercises with feedback from credentialed teachers
- Weekly progress reports emailed to parents
- Exclusive access to an original animated adventure series loaded with hidden puzzles and clues
- 3 adventure tools mailed to your home to help solve special bonus challenges (last year one of the tools was a secret decoder ring)
- Participation in a massive global treasure hunt for a golden trophy containing the key to a safe deposit box holding $10,000.
I’m not an easy sell for summer activities (if you’ve read Minimalist Parenting, you know what I’m talking about). But given the cost of summer camps and classes, I believe this is a great value.
Use the Brain Chase discount code PARENTHACKS15 at checkout for 15% off the price of registration. [Click here to register]
Note: Early bird pricing deadline EXTENDED to April 30, 2015.
If the Brain Chase website doesn’t answer your questions, I’ll find an answer for you. Leave a comment!