Yikes! It’s late July and there’s only about 35 days or less before school starts. It’s time for parents to power up their kid’s brain activity to help them be on track for their new grade level.
Reality is the lazy-hazy dog days of summer invite brain drain for kids. Plain and simple, most kids lose skill during summer months. And that includes both reading and math proficiency. Research shows that some kids slide backward as far as ½ grade level.
Is it too late to stop the loss of skill? If parents are proactive, there’s still time to insert the plug on brain drain. Try these tips:
► Believe in Possibilities: A new study from Mind Growth states that when kids were told there was a possibility of improving their IQ, their IQ improved …and sometimes dramatically.
First action step: tell your children that there is a strong possibility that they can plug their summer brain drain in 30 days. Believe it! They can, even right now in mid summer.
► Talk about how brains work. Studies show that kids are interested in how their brain activity affects their overall success. Many teachers are now employing this motivational strategy.
Discuss the effects of summer slide and how it’s now time to ramp up the brain food supply. Kids can relate to their bodies’ need for daily food to survive. So their brains need a daily diet of reading activity and of doing math to maintain and grow their skill sets. Like muscles, their brains have a use it or lose it phenomenon.
► Socialize reading
→ Create a 30-Day Challenge Book Club. Invite a few friends to join in the race to see who can read the most books before school starts. This could be accomplished through **SKYPE, Facebook, other social media, and/or kids could get together once a week in your home. Research shows that kids, boys in particular, read more when there is a social aspect.
→ Promote daily SKYPE sessions book club group. Where kids discuss books and read selected excerpts, passages, etc. Skype sessions where kids share books, reading to each other on screen are proven to be extremely motivating to kids of all ages.
The Skype method could also be used for friends or family who live away. It’s a terrific (and free!) tool to connect with and read to other children and grandparents, including those in your own community.
→ Encourage kids to become a READING BUDDY to someone younger. Many kids enjoy reading stories to younger children. Every reading activity counts toward slowing summer slide. This could also been done via Skype or FaceTime.
→ Host Pizza and Popcorn sessions for kids to discuss their favorite books or current reading material. Follow with swimming or active play time.
► Require book reports
BUT no regular old written ones, please! Make it fun and allow kids to express themselves creatively: such as:
→Make an animated PowerPoint presentation
→ Make a movie trailer
→ Act as a professional book reviewer or newscaster and record report/synopsis on a smart phone or tape recorder
→ Paint or sketch key points of book
→ Make a diorama
→ Dress as one of the characters when presenting any of the above book report ideas to club members or to family.
►Inspire kids to read and do math activities EVERY WEEK DAY until school starts.
→ Help children set goals of how many minutes a day they will read and do math. Twenty minutes of each is recommended, at the minimum.
→ Make a daily reading/math chart and post it where it’s visible, on the fridge or kitchen bulletin board. Have progress markers (fun stickers, etc.) that reflect the time spent each day. Let your children choose what rewards motivate them. Extra screen time, respite from chores, favorite meal, or it could even be as simple as a cool, tasty popsicle.
→ Take photos of your child reading, making the book obvious in the photo. Post those on the fridge (or even Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to show that you value them reading and doing math. This also helps to embed this image in their subconscious minds. Do the same with math workbooks or other learning activities.
→ Create a Brain Center, a cozy brain-food area (separate from child’s bedroom, if possible) with comfy bean-bag chairs or other fun, hip décor. Display images of real brains (www.bing.com has many colorful images that can be printed) Large bouncy balls can work great as reading seats for active children and those with ADHD, and ADD. The movement helps them focus.
Have baskets of books and workbooks readily available. Make regular trips to the library to keep the reading stash well stocked.
→ Allow kids to choose some of their own reading material, if not all of it, within age-appropriate boundaries. Books must be near their grade level or above, not super easy ones far down the rung. Find what interests them. Even comic books have reading value for purposes of brain gain.
→ Include technology, some e-Books / i-Books to vary the medium. Many of today’s interactive e-Books / i-Books are highly educational while satisfying the gaming urge.
→ Permit some math games on i-Pad, phone, or other device. Screen time can be educational and entertaining.
► Utilize car time.
→ Ask kids to read aloud bumper stickers, billboards, etc. And/or have them add the numbers on license plates. To make this trickier, alphabet letters can have assigned numbers. A =1, B= 2 and on through to Z=26.
► Celebrate and reward every book read, and every math activity book completed.
Fire up the Brain Gain activities and get your kids off to a fantastic start to their new school year. They deserve it. Remember, BELIEVE in POSSIBILITIES!