Avoid summer brain drain

The holidays are almost here and, while it's a much-needed break for kids, it's important to keep your child's brain in tip-top shape for the new academic year

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By Nisthula Nagarajan

Published: Tue 15 Jun 2021, 4:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Jun 2021, 6:03 PM

Summer is meant to be a definitive break from school for children. While the world is also known to slow down a little during the scorching months of June to August, children remain unoccupied. When kids are out of school and on summer vacation, they tend to lose over two months of knowledge from the previous school year before. According to healthcare blog ThinkHealth, this is commonly referred to as the 'summer slide'.

Children are constantly shifting in and out of the classroom over the last year. While the summer holidays mean that learning is the last thing on your kids' minds, it's natural to be concerned with a summer backslide as a parent. A summer free of learning will cause a mental slump for your child and they will be behind at the start of the new school year. Keep their minds sharp and active during the summer by planning activities that stimulate their brain.

Read something every day

The number one recommended summer practice. Reading is a hobby that should be nurtured and encouraged year-round. Consider creating a summer reading list for your children. Take them to the library or a local book fair to choose books. Everyone can spend time reading and then take turns talking about what they have read. Be sure to select books that will stretch and challenge their brain. Research shows that reading just six books during the summer can keep a struggling reader from regressing. Plus, it expands one's mind and helps to grow imagination. Just 20 minutes each day will help increase your child's reading tests scores and expose them to 1.8 million words a year.

Learn through play

Practice makes perfect and skills learned in class must be practised to get better especially maths. To have some fun, make a game out of it. Set aside a weekly game night to play board games with the whole family. Use games with numbers or that have pieces moving around the board. Moving the playing piece to the correct number of spaces reinforces math skills. If your family is travelling, whether inside the UAE or outside, bring along some games that develop the brain in many ways - there are dozens of free, printable games out there.

Plan the holidays together

Unlike last summer, most local museums, aquariums, zoos and science and discovery centres have reopened with precautions. If you're being cautious, schedule family time for some virtual field trips. To develop writing skills, instruct your child to keep a journal of their experiences at these excursions, even if virtual. Along with them, plan a summer bucket list, encouraging them to read. Having them stick to the budget and let them create a calendar to count down the days until vacation also uses their math and reasoning skills. To get out of the house, try an early morning hike in Jebel Jais or a bike ride at Al Qudra.

Grow a green thumb

Gardening is a great way for children to learn new skills and enjoy being outside, embracing the heat (within reason). Develop early science skills by teaching your child how to make plants grow. No matter their age, they will learn valuable lessons about nutrition, plant germination, and most importantly, how to take care of a living thing. Make a schedule for watering the plant, cleaning up the pot etc., which will instil responsibility in your child. Furthermore, growing vegetables takes time, commitment, and care. At the end of the process, getting to enjoy eating the vegetables they have grown will give them a sense of accomplishment and reward.

Having your child home for two months straight without a break is taxing to a parent's mental health as well. The more bored a child is, the more restless they tend to become. Keeping them occupied is the best way to keep yourself, your child and your household sane. Remember that summer is supposed to be a time to make memories and for everyone to recharge their batteries - including you. Use the above ideas and keep your child's cogwheels well-oiled and constantly turning.

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