I’m sure there’s some big polysyllabic, technical, educational word for that midsummer cognitive mushiness, but in our house we just call it Summer Brain. It’s that mental state of existence that sets in a month or so after school is out and suddenly the Pythagorean Theorem has turned devolved in an alphabet soup of squared letters. And if your children are younger, it might simply be the amazing kindergarten penmanship that was so carefully crafted a mere few months ago is now beginning to resemble modern art squiggles.
I’m not one to recommend summer-long tutoring, but in our house we implemented 10 Minute Timer to combat the fogginess of Summer Brain. Yes, it’s as simple as it sounds. For each child, I set the timer for 10 minutes and sit down one-on-one to do some academic review. In the Lennon household, we love teacher stores, so the kids always get to pick a fun math or reading workbook for the summer. Ok, maybe I love teacher stores more than they do….but a nice new, shiny workbook can be inspirational!
Of course, you don’t have to spend any money on workbooks to do math and reading review. Dried beans serve as great manipulatives for counting, classifying and regrouping. You can make your own sight word flash cards. The internet is a great source for engaging, educational material that can be reproduced for free.
The timer is the critical element in our house because it makes the time we spend on “work” completely objective. Mom doesn’t decide when we’re done, the timer does! And I will literally stop mid-sentence to honor the time rule. As the kids get older, you can agree on more time.
The other benefit I have found is it gives me automatic one-on-one time with each child. I know it sounds a bit contrived, but in a busy house with multiple kiddos, my guys actually look forward to this time with Mom.
There are still all the informal ways to work on math and reading over the summer…card games, book clubs, board games (I always make the kids be banker in Monopoly anyway) and don’t forget family read-aloud time. My two oldest are in middle school and they still love it when we read a novel out loud as a family. I love it, too!
So what are your best weapons against Summer Brain? I’d love to hear from you!