Stop Summer Brain Drain

Help kids stay in the learning mode—even during a long break from school—with these tips.

 This article (PDF) | Current issue (PDF) | Archive

By Margaret Poe

The dog days decline

Lazy summer afternoons at the pool or on the ballfield are a welcome break from the classroom. But the time off also can be a setback for what kids learned when school was in session.

2 months

Average loss in mathematical skills during the summer1

3 weeks

Time most teachers spend re-teaching lessons at the beginning of a school year1

25-30%

Share of school-year learning lost over the summer for students in grades 2-92

Keep them sharp

There are plenty of ways kids can avoid the summer slide:

  • Join a summer reading program – Whether run by a local library, the school or another organization, such programs have been proven to improve kids’ test scores.2
  • Take online classes – Websites like Khan Academy offer free lessons on subjects ranging from math to computer programming to art history. Classes are designed for students in kindergarten to those preparing for college and beyond.
  • Visit a museum or zoo – An outing to a local zoo, museum or other attraction can keep young minds engaged.
  • Plant a garden – Between planting the seeds and harvesting fruits and vegetables, the gardening process teaches hands-on science. Plus, it’s great exercise.
  • Cook or bake together – While reading the directions and measuring out ingredients, kids will flex their math skills and gain cooking experience they’ll use all their lives.
  • Pick up a new hobby – Learning something new—whether it’s doing magic tricks, sewing a quilt or playing an instrument—is a welcome challenge during the sleepy summer months.
  • Get moving – Help kids set a goal for a total number of miles they can walk or run during the summer. Track their progress with a pedometer.
  • Volunteer – Kids can help out a local nonprofit or possibly be part of a Thrivent Action Team to meet a community need. Get ideas and inspiration at Livegenerously.com.