How to Combat Your Child’s Summer Brain Drain

Jun 13, 2017

School’s out and for kids, that means three blissful months where they don’t have to crack open a textbook, cram for tests and deal with the stress of school deadlines. However, kids can also lose some of their hard-earned skills during the lazy summer months of vacation.

This is known as summer learning loss, brain drain or the “summer slide”— alluding to the backsliding of learning that kids are prone to outside of continuous skill-building during the school year.



summer learning loss
Source: Southern Education Desk 

Summertime’s Loss of Academic Skills

A study from The Summer Learning Association estimates that summer loss for all students equals about one month on a grade-level equivalent scale. The Slowing the Summer Slide study states, “elementary students' performance falls by about a month during the summer, but the decline is far worse for lower-income students. Most disturbing, it appears that summer learning loss is cumulative and that, over time, these periods of differential learning rates between low-income and higher income students contribute substantially to the achievement gap. These researchers concluded that efforts to close the achievement gap during the school year alone may be unsuccessful.”

Pause the Summer Brain Drain

To minimize the effects of summer learning loss, your child could greatly benefit from apps that target skill improvement in academics, literacy, life skills and more. Keeping skills honed during the summer months are critical to maintain your child’s learning development. The George Lucas Education Foundation offers a few tips to help combat the summer brain drain.

Dr. Gail Gross recommends peppering in activities to help keep skills sharp, many of which are fun outings for the entire family:

  1. Visit your local library
  2. Go on field trips to museums
  3. Cook with your children
  4. Start a family game night
  5. Take family vacations – either in person or virtually

We also recommend utilizing apps — not only keep your kids entertained, but also to keep their brains exercised. Here is a list of 9 apps that can help:

Academics

splash math

Splash Math

curriculum. They offer a series for every grade, from K through 5. You can download the free lite version on your iPhone or purchase the full version for iPad. Kids earn points towards games that are integrated in the app, like the virtual aquarium. You can track your child’s progress via weekly emails, allowing you to independently assign your child work.

Cost: Free for Lite Version, $9.99 per grade level. Bundles have discounted prices.
Cost: iOS

Teach Me:

This app covers grade level skills such as sight words, phonics and numbers for toddlers and grades K-3. Each grade comes with a unique reward for progress. For example, 2nd Grade has a photo booth that allows kids to add a disguise to their photo and 3rd Grade has a dream Home Builder app. Teach Me also has a Math Facts app that allows children to memorize basic math function facts.

Cost: $1.99 per grade or $7.99 for all 6 apps bundled.
Cost: iOS

Literacy & Language

bobs books

Bob Books Reading Magic

Designed for early readers, Bob Books was a favorite for my kids who don’t even like to read! Reading Magic has 3 levels, and is compatible with the Bob Books Reading program. It is based on phonics and employs drag and drop technology to help kids learn reading comprehension.

Cost: free for lite version or $2.99 for full version
Cost: iOS and Android

Word Wizard

This app features a talking “Movable Alphabet” that uses phonics and word building, helping kids learn to spell and speak. It features spelling activities, quizzes and different keyboards available. This app also includes Dolch Sight Words and other word lists and allows you to create custom world lists. There are additional options like a Voice Transformer and the ability to export word lists.

Cost: $4.99
Cost: iOS

Life Skills

visual schedule

Visual Schedule by Enuma

Many kids with learning disabilities struggle to stick to their daily routine and require a visual system to help. Printed planners or systems can be cumbersome, but the Visual Schedule app runs on your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. It features daily and weekly schedules, a list of what tasks are involved in an activity and how long the activity lasts. Enuma also makes Todo Telling Time and Kid in Story to further help your child learn.

Cost: $12.99
Cost: iOS

Behavior & Social Skills

teach 2 talk

Teach2Talk Behaviors with Friends

This app walks your child step by step through a social situation (like a play date) with video and teaches them appropriate behavior. An animated animal character introduces each section, prompting kids to make good choices or solve problems such as taking turns, telling the truth or dealing with frustration. They earn stickers and rewards as they progress through the series.

Cost: $19.99
Cost: iOS

Social Skill Builder

This app is similar to Teach2Talk, however, there are more questions within the video allowing a child hone in on the details. It also teaches them that there can be more than one answer to a question. You can go back and replay the clip on the spot as well. Module topics include school/preschool, community and playtime, and covers issues such as friendships, emotions, and critical thinking.

Cost: $2.99 for Lite Version with 4 modules, $9.99 for Full Version (10 modules)
Cost: iOS

Basic Motor Skills

dexteria dots 2

Dexteria Dots 2

This neat little app allows kids to practice motor skills and visual tracking while teaching math concepts, like greater / less than, with an easy-to-understand game. There are 4 levels, from beginner to expert. The game also supports Common Core standards. The developer has a host of apps that support additional motor skills, such as pinching, and others that teach spatial reasoning.

Cost: $2.99
Cost: iOS

iWriteWords

This basic app helps kids outline letters and numbers with their fingers while learning basic spelling and math. This is a skill my daughter struggled with, but she felt very confident and successful using this app even as an older child. Placing the letters in the correct order rewards the child with an image.

Cost: $2.99
Cost: iOS

These 9 apps can help your child from summer learning loss. They are affordable but most require an iOS device to run. What apps do you find helpful for training your child? We would love to hear! Don’t forget that parental control software is important to use, especially during the summer months when kids spend more time online with their phones and tablets.