Beating the Summer Vacation Brain Drain

Tonya Perry, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum instruction in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Education and author of the “Supporting Students in a Time of Core Standards” series says; “We need to revisit the purpose of summer. We all think of it as time away from the academic school year, but we should also think of it as a time to revisit our interests, work on our challenges and accelerate our learning.”

Beating the summer vacation brain drain is a top priority for every parent and educator. When kids have too much time away from academics, it is easy to lose any gains made during the school year. The loss is most visible in the subjects of math and science. That is why keeping kids engaged, learning, and academically active during the summer is so critical.

Staying engaged with learning does not necessarily mean having kids attend structured summer school programs. Here are a few ways for kids to stay actively engaged with learning and academics in meaningful and fun ways during the summer months.

Create an action plan — Take the time to reflect upon and review your child’s successes and any academic weaknesses. By using information that you, as a parent, know and communications from the school like report cards and parent/teacher conferences; you can easily come up with a plan. Map out a strategy for success and set weekly milestones. That way, you and your child are working together to build upon existing academic strengths and learn skills to overcome any weaknesses.

Strengthen any academic weaknesses — Summer is a fantastic time to work with your child on any academic weaknesses. Enroll them in programs which strengthen weaknesses, such as a math, science or summer reading program. Give them the right tools by investing in summer reading and writing supplies, or find a book to read together as a family. There are a number of free online resources like – or Also, there are many college students or certified school teachers available for tutoring. Your local school or library will have information on available tutors.

Keep it fun — There are a number of experiential learning activities which are fun for everyone involved. The kitchen can be a fantastic classroom for improving math skills. Recipes are a great tool for using fractions, multiplication, or addition. Gardening is another fun way to enhance learning. Kids can get involved in measuring the yard and plotting out sections for planting flowers or vegetables

Move the needle — Summertime can be an opportunity for parents and children to familiarize themselves with academic standards or prepare for the rigorous testing which occurs during the school year in a more relaxed, fun way. Children love to work on projects, so why not help them come up with a project which relates to what they have already learned during the school year. Or enroll them in a career-exploration camp or thematic camp to move the needle even further on their academic growth.

The summer vacation brain drain is not inevitable when you put your own thinking cap on to find ways to beat it. Healthy families work together to grow and improve. Academics are no exception. Dr. Renee has a number of resources for parents and kids to come up with clever, imaginative, and enjoyable ways to keep learning and growing throughout the summer months and the school year.

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