Fighting summer 'brain drain'

Sneaky ways to keep kids learning all summer

School's out for summer, but it doesn't mean your kids have to stop learning.

"You integrate it into fun activities," said Dr. Kate Eshleman, a child psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.  "Things that you're already doing -- playing outside, going on trips -- make those activities educational."

A 2011 study by the Rand Corporation found a majority of children lose about a month's worth of math and reading skills during the summer.

Eshleman suggests turning playtime in the backyard or a walk through the neighborhood into a learning experience.  For example, make a game out of finding things for your children to measure or add up.

Encourage children to practice writing skills with sidewalk chalk or have your older kids design a game for younger siblings. 

Search for different types of wildlife or trees on a trip to the park or have kids track the weather.

"Look at weather patterns. What's making the rain? What does thunder really mean?  When you're going on trips, what are some of the geographic areas you're going to be visiting? And what's going on with oceans or mountains?" said Eshleman.

Board games that require strategy or memory skills will also keep those brains in gear.

If you have a budding entrepreneur, a lemonade stand is a classic summer activity that's also educational.  From measuring ingredients to making signs and adding up the profits -- it's a fun project your kids can do together.

Since reading and writing often suffer over the summer months, look for extra ways to work those activities into your child's day.

If you're planning a vacation, have kids help by researching the area you'll be visiting.  Once you're there, help them write postcards to their family and friends back home or encourage them to keep a journal about the trip.

Since kids tend to spend the school year learning about things other people want them to learn, consider using summer break to let them explore areas that truly interest them.  Parents can help by finding books and other materials on the chosen topics.

Do you have a favorite strategy to fight summer brain drain?  Post it in the comments below or on our Local 4 Facebook page.

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