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How Can Kids Avoid the Summer Brain Drain?

Updated: 07/28/2014 10:11 AM
Created: 07/24/2014 5:00 AM WDIO.com
By: Julie Kruse
jkruse@wdio.com

Kids this summer are swimming at the beach, playing in on the playground, and hanging out with friends among other things. However, after three months of fun, will they suffer from the summer brain drain?

As a 6th grade math teacher at Superior Middle School, Sue Olson said she does see a decline if students haven't practiced over the summer. Olson said although students are back in the classroom in September, it becomes more of a catch-up period for those who don't practice over the summer.

"A lot of time is spent reviewing concepts from the past years," said Olson.

But why is that review period necessary? Tammy Juten is a licensed psychologist with St. Luke's Hospital and she said it's pretty simple.

"If there isn't an academic challenge, the brain isn't going to develop new neural pathways," said Juten. "It's not going to do anything. It's going to be stuck. That part of the brain just isn't going to grow."

Juten said repetition is the key to keeping your brain active.

"Learning is all about creating neural pathways in your brain," said Juten. "The more that you repeat it the easier and the stronger those neural pathways are developed."

So how can kids avoid swirling into that brain freeze? The Principal at Marshall Middle School in Duluth, Karen Snyder, said it only takes 40 minutes a day.

"We try to encourage them to read 20 minutes a day and do math 20 minutes a day," said Snyder. "We want them to think that learning is fun."

Audrey Park-Skinner is the mother of two girls. Although they are in college now, she had them practice academics in the summer for over 15 years.

"We always did grocery store math like percentages when things were on sale," said Park-Skinner. "You can always incorporate some degree or academics without overwhelming them."

Whatever the case, it's something you and your child can do together.

"I think the most important thing is that parents are excited about learning and being active with their kids and looking for whatever adventures they can find," said Juten. "Parents who are involved and invested in that interaction and value learning really find children that are more invested in wanting to learn as well."

So whether it's exploring the trails or touring the aquarium, plunging into different learning activities can prevent the summer brain drain.

We've also provided a list of 25 things you can do with your child beyond the classroom.

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