If you look at any given homeschool curriculum, you’ll see that the last twenty lessons or so look almost identical to the first twenty lessons of the next year. Why is that?
Summer Brain Drain.
Really. We teach kids for nine months, and then they spend three months forgetting what they just learned. It’s a struggle that teachers face each and every year.
The first month of school is spent re-learning. They have to practice their handwriting all over again. They need to remember to sit and work on a specific task.
It takes a while to get back into the school routine, and it can be a real struggle for kids that already struggle with change and transitions.
So what can we do to help?
How to Prevent the Summer Brain Drain
Read Everything You Can
I’ve always been a reader, so of course my first idea to prevent summer brain drain is by reading everything we can get our hands on.
Make frequent trips to the library. Reread old favorites. Find some new books to explore.
I am looking at getting this book for Mr. C. I think it’ll keep him entertained a while.
He’ll also be finishing his box set of The Boxcar Children that he got for his birthday.
Check out what reading challenges and programs are happening in your area, and if you can’t find any, make your own! Challenge your kiddo to read 100 hours this summer. Think they can do it?
Reading helps keep kids’ brains active through the summer. They’ll always be learning new things and practicing their reading skills. When the Fall comes around, the added reading load won’t even phase them.
School Year Round
If you’re homeschooling, you might decide to school year round to help prevent the summer brain drain. I know we’ve done this in the past.
It might seem like a drag to school through the summer without taking a long break, but it can help kids keep a routine.
We’re using some of these workbooks through the summer to give the kids some practice before school starts.
When you school year round, there isn’t an opportunity for kids to forget what they’ve learned because they’re exposed to daily repetition and reminders.
As an added bonus, we’ve found that we can skip the repetitive lessons in most of our curriculum because we don’t forget everything over summer!
Use Learning Games
This might just be my favorite way to prevent summer brain drain. See, sometimes kids just want to be done with school for the summer, and they feel that it should be all about fun and playing.
That’s where learning games come in.
You can use educational games to sneak learning in to fun activities without your kids even realizing that they’re learning!
I love our Get the Wiggles Out Game because while kids are doing the crazy actions, they’re also working on counting or number recognition!
We love to play Uno and use the number cards to drill math facts with Mr. C and colors and numbers with A-Man as we play.
A-Man also uses Candy Land to practice color matching, and Baby M and A-Man both practice counting with Connect 4.
I also really like to use these Muscle Mover Cards with the boys through the summer. There’s an animal action on one side and a letter on the other, so kids can be active and silly while working on tracing or building letters.
We’ve also used the SuperWhy ABC Letter Game to help practice reading without the kids feeling like all they did all summer was read!
Explore Interests With Unit Studies
This is something we’re doing for the first time this year, and I’m excited to see how it goes.
Mr. C hasn’t been loving some of the curriculum that we have for this year, and it’s just causing too many fights. We decided to shelve it a bit early and start looking at doing some interest-lead unit studies through the summer.
What I love about unit studies is that kids can learn what they’re interested in.
I know that I am always more engaged with learning if it’s content that I want to learn about or if I understand the value in it. Unit studies do that for our kids.
You can put together a unit study on absolutely anything, trust me. Just search “unit study” on Pinterest and you’ll know what I mean!
A few unit studies we’re considering this year are
- The Ocean
- Government (Mr. C is fascinated by politics right now)
The other thing that I love about unit studies is how easily we can adapt them to all of the kids’ learning levels. Mr. C, A-Man, and even Baby M can all learn about the same topics at their own level, so I only have to teach once!
Build Supporting Skills
This is an often overlooked way to prevent summer brain drain, especially in this house.
You can spend the summer focusing on supporting skills to help your kids once the school year rolls around.
This summer we’re working with all the kids on fine motor skills. Mr. C can read two chapter books a day, but his handwriting leaves something to be desired! A-Man’s dyspraxia makes it difficult for him to process and complete fine motor tasks, and Baby M is a toddler who’s working on building up the strength in his fingers.
For all of them we use our I Can Pound! Kit which has a weighted hammer to help develop hand and finger strength. We also love pushing the pegs in and pulling them out to help work all of the fingers needed to hold and use a pencil.
We’re also working a lot on listening skills, particularly with Mr. C. This year we’ve been struggling to focus and listen to directions, so we’re finding ways throughout the summer to practice those skills.
One of our favorite ways to practice listening? Listening games!
We’re playing lots of Simon Says and Red Light Green Light. Bonus points because you can be silly in those games, and silly is Mr. C’s middle name!
And finally, we’re going to focus on learning some life skills that get ignored all too often in this house.
See, I have four tiny humans. It is infinitely quicker for me to do something than it is to teach the kids and wait for them to do it independently.
We’re going to start learning basic cooking skills and maybe some new chores. I would love if Mr. C could make a simple lunch by the time school starts.
Of course, Chris will have to help with this, since I don’t cook or clean hardly ever in our house!
Summer brain drain can put a real damper on the mood when it’s time to go back to school, but it doesn’t have to! Take some time this summer to try out a few of the activities on this list, and you’l find school in September to come much more naturally to your kiddos!
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