Summer Brain Gains

Reducing the “Summer Slide”

The countdown to summer break has begun and while most adults will not deviate from their routines, kids are ready to kick back, relax, and have fun!

But, amidst the sleeping in, lounging around, and deviation in schedules, studies show that “the average student lost 17–34% of the prior year’s learning gains during summer break, as well as that students who lose ground in one summer are more likely to also lose ground in subsequent summers.”A 

While we want our children to get a much needed break from ‘hitting the books,’ there is a present challenge of ensuring the break doesn’t effect their development. We’ve come up with a few ways to ensure that your kiddos get the rest they need, without creating a gap in their growth socially, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. 

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Keep a Routine

Families thrive on routine during the school year, and keeping to a variation of that not only eases the transition back into the fall, but knowing what to expect daily can reduce stress and anxiety.

Now, this doesn’t have to be as strict. After all, it is summer BREAK. But some essentials include regular wake up and bed times, setting a time for dinner each night, and continuing going to activities that don’t break for the summer.

Another way to keep your family in a routine is to create a visual schedule (Here’s a fun dry erase one Amazon). Either printed out, color coded, or with the help of the little hands in your family, having a visual representation of what the week looks like is an easy way to keep everyone on track.

Regular Meals and Healthy Snacks

Ever heard that kids and teens have a bottomless pit for a stomach? Pair that will “nothing to do” during the summer and your pantry may look like a furless cat in a matter of minutes!

Keep fruit, yogurt, and healthy snacks readily available. Chips and candy are okay in moderation, but if your family is seeking snacks, giving them options that are healthier, packed with vitamins and protein, and with less sugar and sodium, even if they snack all day long, they’re reaping benefits! 

When you’re making your grocery list for the week or month, get your family involved! Not only is this a great time for connection, but you’re less likely to end up throwing out that casserole or having snacks go stale when you have what they enjoy on the the list.

Better yet, make your meals together! Some day, you kids are going to be cooking in their own homes, so taking time now to bond in the kitchen will create memories that last a lifetime. 

Engage in Learning Opportunities

Summer is a great time to explore and learn where the school year doesn’t offer the opportunity in the schedule. Look out for day camps and get-togethers that can keep your family’s body and brains moving throughout the summer in areas that your kids may be interested in trying out.

Many local churches, colleges, parks, martial arts schools, and activity centers offer weeks throughout the summer to blend fun with STEM projects and arts and crafts for an incredible week of learning for your family.

Stay Moving

Without school sports and the hustle of the school year, it’s easy for bodies to remain stagnate, which leads to a difficult transition in the fall. Finding ways to keep bodies moving between the couch breaks and video games is essential to continued physical growth.

While many activities take a break for the summer, there are some that stay open, kick off, and even offer specials just for the summer break like martial arts, swimming, and even some fitness centers.

Warmer temperatures and sunny days are also a great opportunity to go for walks, play in the yard or park, or just explore the great outdoors. Plan an evening a week for your family to get some fresh air to cleanse the mind, body, and soul – just don’t forget the SPF!

Make it a Summer to Remember

Kids and teens crave structure to thrive – even if they don’t seem to be on board. Decreasing the slide physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially that summer break can bring is a simple task with a just little planning. We have the opportunity to not only benefit our families lives during the summer, but make it one to remember!

Summer Activity Ideas

Local Camps:

Local Parks:

Local Points of Interest:

Have more ideas? Leave a comment below!

Written by Katie Gentry. Katie is the CEO of Southwest Arkansas Taekwondo, a SKILLZ Lifetime Gold studio in Hope, Arkansas. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt and has been teaching Taekwondo since 2012. Katie has a passion for empowering others to overcome obstacles and see the best in themselves. Through SKILLZ Worldwide, she has studied, trained, and implemented knowledge and strategies for how to help children thrive physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually, backed by experience and psychology. Outside of the dojang, she enjoys reading, exercising, playing board games, and spending time with her family, friends, 4 dogs, and 2 cats.

A Atteberry, Allison, and Andrew McEachin. (2019). School’s Out: The Role of Summers in Understanding Achievement Disparities. (EdWorkingPaper: 19-82). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/2mam-bp02

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