By Teachers, For Teachers
The school bell may have rung for the last time, but the learning can linger all summer long. Summertime is known for its leisure, and all everyone can think about is unwinding and relaxing from that very long school year.
But that two-month summer break can have a huge impact on students’ overall school performance. Oftentimes, teachers have to spend most of the first few months re-teaching students information that they may have already mastered from the year before. Just in those few short months, students can forget up to 22 percent of what they learned in school. That’s almost two months of learning, gone! So, how can we keep our students learning all summer long? Talk to your students and discuss with them how they plan on spending their summer. Then, send home this list of fun, enriching summer activities to parents.
What’s a better way to let out some energy out than to get up and moving? Studies show that children who are active and that exercise can help boost their learning. So as much as physical activity has its physical benefits, it has its cognitive benefits as well. Sign children up for a sports league, an exercise class, encourage them to take a walk outside, and to go play. Structured and unstructured play is all extremely important in a child’s development. Physical activity is a great way to release stress hormones as well as learn lifelong healthy habits.
Research has shown that playing a musical instrument has positive effects on the brain. Studies also show that children who play an instrument have improved language and speech skills. Encourage students to choose an instrument that interests them. They have all summer long to learn how to play and to practice. By the beginning of the new school year, they will have a new craft that they can share with their friends.
Sometimes the last thing a child wants to do on their summer vacation is read a book. For those children, you have to make it fun. If the child loves food, have them read a cookbook then create the recipe. If a child loves to go on vacation, have them research and plan a trip for the family to go on. If a child loves comic books, have them write and create their own comic book. Find out what interests the child and make it fun. If children like a challenge, you can even sign them up for a summer reading challenge. Scholastic Summer Challenge is a free challenge where students can participate in weekly challenges and win prizes.
Invite students to journal their daily activities. All it takes is a few minutes a day to write a few sentences about your daily experiences and adventures. They can even keep a journal for each different learning experience. For example, every time they go on a nature hike or a walk in the woods they can journal about their experience. They can even add a drawing or two or glue a leaf or something that they have found along the way.
Every child loves a good scavenger hunt. Geocaching is a fun outdoor activity that families can do together. Students use their creative and critical thinking skills to search for hidden “caches” that are outdoors. Parents and kids can learn all about this fun and active game here at Geocaching with Kids: The Ultimate Treasure Hunt.
Experts agree that keeping children actively engaged in summer learning (especially reading) will lessen the amount of time that they will have summer slide, or as some call, it summer brain drain. Summer slide affects millions of children each year, but it doesn’t have to. Just by partaking in a few of these activities listed above a few times a week can help. Promote simple, yet fun summer enrichment activities and you can bet your students will come back to school the following year ready to learn.
Do you have any suggestions on how to keep students learning all summer long so they won’t get that dreaded summer brain drain? Please share your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators.