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Posted by on Jul 6, 2016 in How To | 2 comments

9 Ways to Fight Summer Brain Drain

avoid summer brain drain

Summertime living is easy, but some experts believe you shouldn’t let your kids get too comfortable. The reason? Summer brain drain.

Research from multiple studies shows that kids lose about two months of math skills over summer break, and low-income students lose about the same amount in reading skills. What’s a conscientious parent to do without spoiling summer fun?

Your local library. It’s chock full of free or cheap resources from chess clubs to reading competitions.  Or just stop in after a day at the beach and let your kids pick some just-for-fun reading books. Guaranteed they’ll find something they like! And remember that any kind of reading is a brain-building activity.

Volunteer activities. Responsibility engages the mind in ways that help with schoolwork and social skills. Donating time is a great way for older kids to develop a passion, feel accomplished, and make a difference. For high school students, volunteering helps build that well-rounded resume many colleges look for.

Brain-boosting games. Games and puzzles are great problem-solving activities that dovetail well with school lessons. Go to your local thrift store or garage sale and get gently-used ones for pennies. Or check out some of the new selections at Toys R Us, Walmart and Target. Play as a family. From Jenga to Go to the Head of the Class, each game has a lesson to offer.

Discount educational games and supplies. Flash cards and workbooks are wonderful time-killers on a plane, in a car or on a rainy day. Offer “rewards” points for every activity they complete. One online resource to try: Carson-Dellosa Publishing. Even craft stores and Dollar General carry workbooks and educational supplies.

Craft projects. For younger children, crafting projects tap brain power in a powerful way. Origami can be turned into a geometry lesson; counting craft beads can be used to boost computation skills. Scrapbooking can be used to reinforce storytelling skills needed for writing.

Everyday lessons. Have your kids calculate the tip at a restaurant, the per-unit price on groceries, or miles per gallon of that road trip. Have them read up on places you visit and create a brochure. Have them write a movie review or chronicle their summer sports activities.

Courses. Summertime is a great time for older kids to learn something new and challenging. Udemy has many courses in practical subjects like personal finance (something every teen should learn). Rosetta Stone offers discount coupons to help your teen with that foreign language requirement.

Tutoring. Downtime is healthy, but if you want to add in some structured learning, there are plenty of places to turn. Look for online coupon codes and introductory specials for summer tutoring programs. Summer is slow season for franchises like Mathnasium, Sylvan Learning Center and Huntington Learning Center; call around and ask about discounts. You can also find an older student or a teacher willing to tutor.

Cheap textbooks. High schoolers, especially, can’t afford to lose their academic skills with the prospect of SATs, ACTs and other high-stakes tests. Help them get ahead or refresh their skills by buying or renting textbooks. Check out discount online sites, such as Chegg or CourseSmart.

Summer offers unexpected opportunities to spark learning. And the lessons don’t have to be in a classroom-like setting. Mix in some purposeful skill-building activities and built-in lessons with that well-deserved  downtime, and you’ll keep their learning brain sharp for September.


  1. If I could get my child off of a phone screen I’d be happy. Losing some math skills would be fine compared to the worthless drain of social media. Some good idea’s here. You need to add one. Don’t pay your power bill for the summer so they can’t they can’t recharge screens!

    • Thanks for your comment, Mark. Too much screen time is a huge issue for many parents. Perhaps kids could be persuaded to use those screens to find good deals on and learn a lesson in percentages!

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