Summer is here, which means popsicles, camp, vacation and some quality family time with the kids. While the opportunity for fun is endless, so is the reality known as brain drain. Regarded as a loss of knowledge gained during the previous school year, children often lose approximately 2 months of learning in reading and math during the summer break. Which means, they’ll spend the first 6 weeks re-learning the previous year’s lessons when they return to school.

Thankfully parents can prevent brain drain with a few simple steps. First, encourage your children to read for just 10 minutes a day and they’ll retain the reading skills they’ve learned, according to the National Literacy Trust. While time spent reading is important, so is the choice of literature. Children read more when they can choose materials based on their own interests. The ability to choose encourages them to stay committed to their decisions; a trip to the library might be the first step. Local libraries in Phoenix have summer reading programs and many offer reward programs for regular reading, which are documented and approved by parents. A great way to encourage reading this summer is to schedule consistent time to read as a family.

Dr. Alicia Iniguez is Assistant Vice President – Outreach at Arizona State University.

Making some simple at-home accommodations to ensure children’s minds are being stimulated is also important. Engaging in day-to-day activities that provide opportunities for learning can be fun for the whole family. Consider preparing dinner together to teach math concepts such as measuring and fractions. A structured schedule, which incorporates these learning activities, can go a long way in creating an environment where learning is a part of everyday life. Playing outside, gardening, completing chores and helping siblings are some other activities that can create a routine of exploration and intellectual engagement.

Enrolling children in summer activities and programs is another great way to significantly reduce summer learning loss. In addition to local libraries, churches, museums and schools are a few places that offer these types of programs. The Arizona State University Sun Devil Kids’ Camp, for students in first grade through ninth grade, offers 10 one-week sessions and includes physical fitness activities, arts and crafts, STEM activities and swimming. Kids’ Camp is still accepting participants for a few of its sessions.

While kids are at play, parents can learn about specific programming to help them navigate preparing their children for college. Access ASU, an outreach division of ASU committed to ensuring all children and their parents are prepared for college, offers WeGrad, a program that provides a series of lessons for elementary, middle school and high school parents that teaches them how to reinforce the value of education. Through the program, parents will come to understand their role in facilitating their child’s academic success and preparing their student for the upcoming school year.

WeGrad is a free, self-paced experience delivered conveniently through SMS text messaging and WhatsApp and is available in both English and Spanish. It is another valuable resource parents can take advantage of to facilitate learning year-round.

In addition to taking advantage of WeGrad, some of the other activities Access ASU recommends that encourage learning include visiting:

  • Children’s Museum of Phoenix
  • The Phoenix Zoo
  • Desert Botanical Garden
  • Arizona Museum of Natural History
  • Legoland Discovery Center
  • Odysea Aquarium
  • Sea Life Aquarium
  • Arizona Science Center

Whether you decide to go out or stay home, there are plenty of ways to combat brain drain this summer. Give children the means to retain the valuable information they learned during the school year, and you’ll set them up for success. The better equipped children are in their formative academic years, the better they’ll be able to navigate life’s challenges. Whether your child decides to attend ASU or another institution one day, Access ASU is committed to helping parents and children thrive while in school and in life.

Author: Dr. Alicia Iniguez is Assistant Vice President – Outreach at Arizona State University.