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Three Steps for a Supercharged Summer


School’s out for summer, and kids are getting excited for festivals, fireworks, amusement parks and endless fun in the sun. But what effect does the longest vacation of the year have on your child’s developing brain?

Like any system in the body, the brain needs exercise in order to stay in shape. Taking a two-month break can slow down a runner or trip up an expert guitar player, proving consistent practice makes perfect. Dedicating as little as 10 minutes a day to an activity not only works to improve physical skills, but to increase mental acuity as well.

Research shows that students can experience up to a two-month learning loss over summer vacation, with the steepest drops in math. While it remains important to strengthen your child’s passions, it is equally, if not more, important to help your child grow academically during this crucial time, especially in areas that challenge them. Summer learning comes with its advantages: with no pressure to study for tests or complete daily homework assignments, kids can learn at a leisurely pace and be prepared for the next school year.

Here are a few steps to prevent your child’s brain from powering down for the summer:

Visit Museums

Art, literature, history, science—museums across Connecticut provide opportunities to change your child’s mind about a subject that causes a struggle in school. Take notice of what catches your child’s attention; ask them to share their discoveries from the day. Family learning experiences make an impact and allow you to gain insight into your child’s interests. If you can find at least one thing that fascinates your child, you can use that excitement as a launching point into a new field of study.

Sign up for Summer Camps

A summer program can make a great difference in a child’s education. Camps come in a variety of sizes and specialties. While you can always choose to enroll your daughter or son in a camp that plays to their strengths or focuses on outdoor fun, studies show that children benefit the most from academically-oriented camps. That does not necessarily mean that summer school is the only answer. Many places, including the Connecticut Science Center, offer camps that focus on specific topics (i.e. robotics, nature, engineering) while providing an educational experience through active, hands-on play.

Bring Your Child’s Experience Home

Parents are teachers, too! Find books, games or fun facts that relate to your child’s interest. With many kids today having access to computers and iPads, it has become easy to download apps for kids to play with limited supervision. While this new technology offers more opportunity for kids to learn on their own time, it is beneficial—and enjoyable—for parents to engage with children directly through fun learning activities. Taking a road trip this summer? Throw in a math or spelling game that everyone can play. Not only will you take an active part in your child’s education, you might even brush up on your own skills, too!

Samantha Woznica