At the end of each school year, there’s always concern on the part of parents and teachers that students will be victimized by brain drain over summer break. It’s no myth. Over the two to three months students are on summer break, they experience an overall learning loss of one month and it takes the first six weeks of school for kids to relearn old material.
As adults, we must remember what it was like to be a child: time passes more slowly for children, so what adults may see as a relatively short couple of months, young students may experience as a much longer time away from class. Over summer break, it takes a bit of work to avoid brain drain.
Because young brains are pliable, it doesn’t take much to keep a child’s gray matter busy and ready to start the new school year with the same number of brain cells they had on the last day of class.
Summer can be a busy time, but parents can keep kids thinking by including them in household activities such as shopping, cooking, and even desert gardening. If that doesn’t seem too stimulating, challenge kids with these fun math and science riddles while driving, baking, or cleaning.
For those days when there doesn’t seem much to do, set aside an hour per day for some projects that will get kids thinking.
Arts and Crafts
Summer vacation is only about 60 days long, but here are 100 summer crafts and activities for kids that adults will love, too. The best part is that the supplies for almost all of these projects are items you probably already have in your home.
Fun, Educational Projects
S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) projects are fun and educational. With just a few inexpensive supplies, kids can build a geodesic dome from gumdrops, make things with electric play dough, or grow crystals.
Like most parents, you’ve probably taken thousands of photos over the summer. Rather than keep them on your phone or in the cloud, go through them with your child and have them pick photos they feel tell the story of their summer. Then, print the photos and have kids make a scrapbook. Very few supplies are necessary, and kids … who love seeing photos of themselves … will have something they can keep for years.
Between Phoenix and Tucson, there are plenty of top-notch museums that are fun and educational for kids and parents.
- Children’s Museum of Phoenix and Children’s Museum Tucson and Oro Valley
- Arizona Science Center in Phoenix
- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson
- OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale
- Flandrau Planetarium in Tucson
- Phoenix Zoo in Phoenix
- Reid Park Zoo in Tucson
- Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix
- Tucson Botanical Gardens in Tucson
For more traditional activities, parents can try getting out some board games; if your child is only familiar with electronic games, this could be a real eye-opener. Or check out the Phoenix or Pima County libraries; there are always some fun activities taking place at the library. Or get in the car and drive somewhere you’ve never been before.
Summer break is only about two months long, and some of that time may be taken up with family vacations. If parents could only invest an hour or two each day in keeping their child’s brain active, it will pay off when classes resume for the 2019-2020 school year. Plus, it just might wear the little tykes out so that they go to bed early once in a while.