Parenting: Tackling summer brain drain

July 27, 2011

3rd grade just ended a month ago--maybe more. It took him a few minutes to come up with the correct answer, as well as other multiplication questions, and that's when it occurred to us that Nicholas may be experiencing the dreaded "summer brain drain", which tends to happen to youngsters if parents aren't careful.

Many experts predict that most kids will lose some math knowledge during the summer. Others will take a step back in their reading skills. And that means teachers will have to spend the first few months of the new school year re-teaching or re-familiarizing students to things they've already learned. So what can parents do? Well I found plenty of websites like, that suggest various ways to keep our kids brains from melting in the summer heat.

One suggestion is bringing back those age-old flash-cards. We just bought some for multiplication memory, and while my son is not always excited to use them, if I make it into a Jeopardy-like game show with "prizes", he's a bit more enthusiastic. For instance if he can answer 7 or 8 equations in a row, then he may get a dollar or two added to his allowance, or perhaps he can increase the amount of time he plays video games in the evening. We've also started playing Scrabble more often, to get him thinking about words and spelling, and vocabulary. There's also a great game called "words with friends" similar to scrabble, that we'll let him play on our iPhones or iPad.

Here's some other suggestions to help minimize summer brain drain:

1. Encourage your child to write a story or keep a journal or blog.
2. Start a summer book club
3. Plan a treasure hunt, with clues and puzzles to analyze and solve.

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