You may have heard of the “summer slide,” or the loss of learning that naturally occurs between the last day of one school year and the first day of the next. It’s a normal occurrence, given that humans generally can’t remember everything they’ve been taught, but too much of it is not so good.
Working moms don’t always have a lot of time to spend considering how much learning their children are retaining, and, often, their children are just fine anyway. But with summer starting to wind down, some WMAGs might be looking for a few (relatively) painless ways to clear the dust and debris from their children’s noggins and to get their thinking gears going again.
These steps might not seem at first seem painful, but on second glance, they’ll look like pretty decent ideas after all:
1. Hold them upside down by their ankles and shake.
(This helps dislodge the debris, and much of it will exit through children’s ears.
Seriously: tell your kids to run outside and play. When they ask to come in to watch TV, tell them to go play ball.
Physical activity is great for brains young and old. In fact, research suggests it might even be better for cognition than well-known brain-boosting activities like crossword puzzles. So get your kids’ brains’ blood flowing through movement and exercise.
2. Pretend like you have a secret to tell them, and then blow out the cobwebs through their ears.
(Particularly effective for certain head shapes.)
Seriously: Read books. Together, alone – just read. Outside of all of the knowledge that books have to offer, reading is an exercise of concentration, a flexing of the focus muscle so important to the practice of real, sustainable and lasting learning.
3. Frontal lobotomy.
(This may sound extreme, but we’re only talking about cutting off the bad stuff, right?)
Seriously: but does the thought of blood and guts and surgery interest your kids? Or maybe they’d take better to trees and flowers? Or do they have an affinity for history? Either way, take a quick field trip!
Exploring the many learning gifts our own communities have to offer us — even just the free stuff! — is a great way to put a vivid and tangible face to a concept. That kid in my class whose parents took him to see the Jamestown colony in Virginia when he was little? He’s a Social Studies teacher now. Not every “field trip” is going to be that much of an excursion (they drove from Wisconsin), but the point that being able to see, breath, and feel something related to an event or concept can be among the most powerful learning opportunities you’ll ever encounter.
* * *
That wasn’t so bad, right? A few things you may have been doing with your kids all summer anyway. If you haven’t been doing them – or doing enough of them – though, now is a good time to start or to step it up.
If, on the other hand, your kids have been doing plenty of reading, moving, and exploring, here’s a little reassurance that you’re doing plenty. Preventing too much “summer slide” isn’t rocket science; it just takes a little time and effort.