Avoiding "Brain Drain" on Summer Vacation

Ask the Experts by Angelina Spiteri

Q: Now that my children are on summer break, how do we best avoid the "brain drain" and encourage them to keep learning throughout the vacation?

A: We never want to take away the simple joys of a child's summer vacation. At the same time, summers come and go. The demands of next school year will be here before we know it, and we don't want any of our progress from last school year to fade.

Children enjoy having structure, and it is possible to maintain a learning schedule in the summer. Our advice - lay the groundwork right away. Create a schedule for learning time on day one of summer vacation. Figure out what days and times during the week are realistic to get work done, and keep it that way. If something comes up, reschedule with your child. When the expectations are clear and consistent, you can cruise through summer worry-free.

Learning in the summer should be hassle-free. First recommendation: read, read, read! Spread out a blanket in the yard, set up a hammock or build a reading "fort". Many teachers provide summer packets to keep them going on their level. If you don't have one, make a list of skills your child might have struggled with the previous year and put together your own packet.

Focus on making the learning fun and engaging. Could your child answer some science questions while "camping" in the yard? Maybe your child and his/her friends can cover school material via a game of charades or jeopardy. Play hopscotch to practice math instead of flash cards. As long as the material is covered, and the schedule is kept, you are engaging your child and keeping their brain active.

If all this seems impossible, you can turn to professionals. Many learning centers provide structured programs in all subject areas, sure to keep your child engaged and afloat all summer.

Angelina Spiteri-Bender is a Center Director at the Reading and Language Arts Centers (RLAC). RLAC has nine tutoring centers located throughout the Metro Detroit area. RLAC's Phonics First™ tutoring services provide individualized instruction to learners who either struggle with or seek enrichment in any academic subject. For more information on the tutoring services available in the Grosse Pointe area, please call 248-945-9690, or visit the website, www.rlac.com. Reading and Language Arts Centers (RLAC) is a member of The Family Center's Association of Professionals. RLAC will soon become Brainspring - stay tuned.

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