Greetings, Learning Expressions Readers!
With summer approaching, back-to-school season is probably the last thing on your mind. However, if you plan to battle what we like to call “summer brain drain”, then now is the perfect time to start thinking about how to keep your kid’s brain active during the summer months. Why, you may ask?
Well, come the start of the school year, you’ll ship your children off to school looking sharp in their newest outfits and equipped with a backpack full of freshly minted school supplies (certainly the only comforts on this very worst of days). Here’s the problem: your kids may suffer from “First Day of School Hand-Quakes”. Allow me to elaborate: Third Grade. Mrs. Hawthorne’s Class. Room 306. Ray School Elementary. I picked up my newly sharpened #2 Lisa Frank unicorn pencil (thanks mom) only to find that my hand no longer seemed to recall how to write my own name; it rebelled at the thought and quivered uncontrollably with the very effort. Perhaps it should have come as no surprise, it had been occupied playing Marco Polo and creating peanut butter bird feeders and hurling flaming marshmallows at fellow campers all summer. The closest I’d gotten to writing my own name over the summer months was to scrawl a big “KB” on the bottom of my various paper mache creations.
Regrettably, things only got worse in Room 306 when we were handed a division worksheet. After Mrs. Hawthorne dismissed my protestations that I had ingested far too much bug spray over the summer months to count past the number 12 (I’d heard the stuff was ridiculously dangerous), I spent the remainder of the afternoon struggling to complete the assignment while ignoring the furious cramp swiftly developing in my writing hand. Honestly, I would have much preferred to be at home with my newly acquired tadpole collection.
Alas, though my young brain may have been addled during those warmer months, I think we can all attest to the fact that summer is made delightful by way of the simpler pleasures in life: enjoying the outdoors, spending time with family, going to bed grubby and exhausted from the adventures theday has brought.
• Summer Brain Drain
Research from the Johns Hopkins National Summer Learning Association has confirmed that I wasn’t the only eight-year old struggling to wield my pencil come September 1. In fact, research from the last 100 years has proven that students consistently perform worse on standardized tests at the beginning of the school year than they do at the end of the previous school year. Additionally, the NSLA reveals that most students “lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months”. While students from higher income families tend to show some improvement in reading comprehension over the summer months, those from lower income families tend to lose the equivalent of two months in reading achievement while out of school. These are certainly sobering facts, however I’m guessing the words “summer school” and “math camp” may be met in many of your households with screams of horror rather than of delight.
• The Summer Bridge Solution
Learning Express Toys is invested in solutions that reconcile, rather than compromise, the connection
between learning and fun. We are all for firefly catching and camping trips, but so too are we invested in the continual progression of children’s learning. With this in mind, our stores are proud to carry Summer Bridge Activities Workbooks. This series of activity books for grades Pre-K through Eight has a motto that we here at Learning Express love: “School Stops for Summer: Learning Never Should”.
Each workbook is approximately 150 pages and contains anything from reading, writing, math, science, and social studies exercises. A great feature of these books is that they don’t contain just new information, but review skills from the year before (that may have gotten a little rusty with all that swimming and firefly catching). The three sections in the workbook correspond to the traditional three months of summer vacation, and to achieve maximum results children should complete two activity pages each day. The pages are conveniently perforated so the book doesn’t need to be lugged around – two pages can easily be slipped into mom’s purse!
We particularly love that each Summer Bridge book comes with a recommended Summer Reading list, along with recommendations about how much time a child of that age should spend reading each day. Each book also comes with flashcards to help reinforce basic skills, and a certificate of completion to help you celebrate your child’s summer learning success.
• The Best of Both Worlds
Quite simply, the Summer Bridge Workbooks offer the perfect compromise between summer fun and summer learning. The National Summer Learning Association has noted, “The most important thing to be concerned about for stemming or reversing summer learning loss is continual opportunities for learning during the summer months.” Summer Bridge Activities offer just such learning opportunities without depriving your kids of the joys of summer. They can be done at the kitchen table after a long day of capture-the-flag, just as easily as they can be done on long car journeys to Grandma’s. For us, the real beauty of these workbooks is that they keep your child’s brain active and limber while still allowing them to enjoy just being kids. Who wouldn’t love this kind of solution? I know all the Mrs. Hawthornes out there certainly will.
Talk to you again soon!