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Girl drawing with chalk in the summer

How To Prevent Summer Brain Drain

keep your kids learning over the break

Summer is usually a season full of family vacations, camps, time spent outdoors and a few months free from schoolwork. However, as COVID-19 and stay-at-home regulations continue to loom over the summer holiday, parents and educators are wondering what a summer spent indoors will look like.

As we have all struggled with the challenges that come with distance learning, many wonder what happens when our children no longer have the structure of even a Zoom lesson? How do we keep our children engaged, while ensuring they don’t give in to the dreaded summer brain drain? 

Allow for screen time 

This time together can be a gift in which parents and children can explore (virtually) together.

Screen time often gets a bad rap, but when used responsibly, the computer, phone or tablet can become a useful tool to keep children learning. Technology can be an incredible and invaluable resource for creativity and education. 

With most outdoor activities cancelled, it is inevitable that your children will spend more time than usual on their devices. Use this to your advantage—there are a wide variety of free, educational videos and games available to ensure your children stay engaged.

Set regulations for how much time is spent on their devices, and balance it with hands-on activities or social-distanced playtime outside.  

Create a learning environment

One of the most important things to remember is that in order for your children to learn and progress in a productive way, particularly outside of a traditional classroom, you must create an environment that allows that.

While your children may be inside, use this as an opportunity to give them the chance to create their own lessons. What are they interested in? What do they want to learn more about that may not be offered in a classroom setting?  

This is also an opportunity to turn everyday chores into lessons.

Let your children help you measure ingredients for baking to work on their math skills, or have them work in the garden to learn about the environment and where their food comes from. Keep in mind that children benefit from a social-emotional connection, so identifying areas in their daily lives where they can continue developing these skills is critical. 

Give yourself a break

Summer brain drain is something parents face every summer, whether this season is filled with enriching summer camps or spent inside with a tablet.

While your children may not be learning academics such as arithmetic and grammar, they are gaining invaluable life skills being home with you. Offering them a creative outlet or opportunity to acquire knowledge about topics of personal interest prepares them to return to school with new understanding of the world around them, and an eagerness to learn.

While we have no idea what the fall semester will bring, this is a time to embrace the unknown.

As our homes have become some office-slash-school-slash-restaurant-slash-hotel combination all rolled into one, learning can feel as if it’s being put on the backburner. As an educator and a mother, I know it takes a lot to manage just one job, let alone two. Give yourself some grace during this time and know that your children will still get an excellent education, even if it isn’t the one you imagined. 


Kelli Duhaney, Ed.D., is director of STEM and technology integration at Trinity Christian Academy (TCA) in Addison.

Image courtesy of iStock.