3 Expert Tips to Stop ‘Summer Brain Drain’

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School may be out for the summer, but it’s critical that learning doesn’t take a pause during these few months away from the classroom.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, a nonprofit working to close the achievement gap created by “summer brain drain,” students lose roughly two months of math skills during the summer months – while children living in low-income households can lose up to three months in reading skills.

To help bring awareness to the importance of utilizing these summer months for ongoing learning, the National Summer Learning Association created National Summer Learning Week, which is July 8-13 this year.

Below, Dora Rice, a 3rd- and 4th-grade teacher at Corlears School, offers a few ideas for ways you can work with your child at home during summer breaks to stem learning loss.

Have a "family book club”

Read the same book as your child either independently or aloud together (alternating turns between all participants). Pause every chapter or at important moments to ask your child critical thinking questions. These questions could be about character motivations (“Why do you think they did this?”), character traits (“What kind of person do you think they are?”), and text predictions (“What do you think will happen next?”). Ask your child to provide proof from the text to support their thinking. At Corlears, strong readers use evidence!

Looking for tips for reading aloud with toddlers? Watch our video “Teacher Talks: Read Alouds at Home” on The Spot, Corlears’ parent resource hub.

Engage in real world math conversations

Have your child accompany you to the grocery store, help pack for a trip, or read the clock for you. Ask them:

  • How many more of an item you'd need to make groups of 10, 20, 50, 100 (composing and decomposing these “landmark” numbers)

  • How many individual items are in a pack (multiplication review)

  • Or, “How many minutes until____,” and, “have past since_____?” (addition review)

  • You can also ask, "If it is 1:23 p.m. now, how long ago was 1:15 p.m.?" (subtraction review)

Everyday math is everywhere!

Learn more about early years math at Corlears and find resources for parents here.

Keep a journal

Write letters back and forth with your child in a journal. Have them take 10-15 minutes each day (or on a significant day) to write down what they're up to! Ask them to use their 5 senses to add details to their entries (what do you hear, see, smell, taste, feel – in your heart or with your hands?). Teachers love reading summer writing work in the fall!

For more resources, visit The Spot, Corlears’ hub for expert education tips from our very own teachers, or visit National Summer Learning Week’s official website for additional summer activities.

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