Avoiding the summer brain drain - WNEM TV 5

Avoiding the summer brain drain

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

The summer is here! That long awaited school break has arrived. Your children are now enjoying their much deserved time away from the daily grind of spelling tests, math worksheets, book reports, geography lessons, science projects and homework. It is time for them to play in the sun, swim in the pool, go camp, walk the beach, shoot hoops, ride bikes, sleep in, relax, and lose over two months of reading and math gains that they worked so hard to attain this past school year.

Yes, many children fall almost three months behind in math and reading skills over the summer. This phenomenon is so well known that educators even have a special name for it. They call it the "the summer slide". Because of the summer slide teachers often invest the first two months of every school year focusing on lesson plans that help students regain skills they lost over the summer.

But this doesn't have to be the case. The summer slide does not need to occur in your family. Creating a summer that is totally void of learning is not what children need. You

can provide high-quality learning opportunities for your children during the summer months that are different from those activities children are exposed to during the school year. This gives them a break from traditional school work and yet prevents important skills from slowing draining away.

Below are a few tips you can use to create a different look and feel to the learning opportunities you offer your children this summer.

  • Math skills deteriorate rapidly in the summer. Use your environment to help them use math skills. When you put chemicals in the pool take the time to figure out the area, diameter, or volume of your pool. At approximately 9 pounds per gallon of water, how much does all that water weigh?
  • Taking a road trip? Calculate the mileage by using a map and adding up the distance as indicated on the map. What does miles-per-hour mean and how do you compute it? How many miles-per-gallon are you getting?  What is the difference in gas prices in different locations?

  • Sit together with your eleven year old and balance the check book and compare it to the family budget. Help your teenager create a budget plan or pick a stock to invest in and track its progress through the summer.

  • Have your children handle money. Take pop bottles back and have them estimate how much money they will receive. Allow them to make change at your garage sale. Have them count the money you have in the family charity jar.

  • Keep lots of reading material around your home. Read to and with your children. Create a family book club. Pick a book with your child and both read it. Just the two of you sit down together over a pop or ice cream cone once a week and discuss the plot development or characters.

  • Keep it fun. Play games that require the use of skills learned in school. Spend a few minutes perusing the game section of the local department store.  As a way to stretch your imagination consider some of the oldest games from around the world listed below.

*Mancala – Some historians believe Mancala to be the oldest game in the world. A wooden game board with six hollowed sections to hold forty-eight stones (flattened marbles in games purchased in stores). Players use counting and estimating as they move their stones around the board attempting to capture as many of their opponents' stones as possible. The rules are simple, yet challenging. Can be purchased at most department stores.

*Shut the Box® - Said to have been invented in the 12th century France and considered a cherished game among sailors and fisherman off the coast of Normandy some 200 years ago. It is played with two dice and wooden tiles that 

are turned over as the dice are added and tiles eliminated. The lowest score on the remaining tiles wins. Also known in various parts of the world as Canoga, Tric-Trac and Batten Down the Hatches. For purchasing information visit www.woodexpressions.com

*Senet™ - Played on a board similar to those found in the tombs of Egyptian Kings such as Ramses III and King Tut. Hieroglyphics on the board surface indicate specific move that can (or cannot be made) as players drop four sticks that represent a numerical value in an attempt to be the first one to remove all their Senet™ pieces from the board first. For purchasing information visit www.woodexpressions.com

*King's Table…The Viking Game – Tablut (King's Table) as it was called is the forerunner of chess. It was played in A.D. 400 by Norwegians, Swedes, Icelanders and Russians. The Vikings carried the game all through Europe and down into Persia where it was later combined with a game called "Shatranj". The combinations of these two games is what we know today as chess.

King's Table is a game of attack and defense as eight pieces protect the king while sixteen pieces attempt to capture the king. All the pieces move like the rook moves in chess. The games teaches strategy, thinking ahead and how to analyze patterns. Fun for kids of all ages. For purchasing information visit www.woodexpressions.com

*UR™ - Thought to be 4,500 years old this was a game played by the royalty and wealthy people of the Biblical city called "Ur of Chaldees" in Mesopotamia which is the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in modern day Iraq. The Biblical game has pyramid-shaped dice and is played on a board with six different markings. The goal is to move game pieces about the size of a nickel around the board attempting to cover the spaces of the same markings. For purchasing information visit www.woodexpressions.com

*Rush Hour® - A challenging game of problem solving and spatial reasoning from the ThinkFun® Corporation. The game is played with plastic cars and trucks of various lengths that positioned on a grid to match one of 40 playing cards. The goal is to maneuver the red car out of the playing grid and escape the traffic jam by shifting all the blocking cars and trucks out of the way! For purchasing information visit www.thinkfun.com

  1. Use Electronic devices (Computers, iPads, Tablets, Smart Phones) as tools not toys. Turn off the TV and get away from the video games. There are a lot of options available so consider the following list of apps as a guide. Elementary teachers consider these some of the best for creative and fun learning opportunities.
  1. a.    Kindergarten: 

*Teach Me K – ELA and Math where kids go through different levels to accomplish simple math and beginning letter sounds and simple words. They collect coins and build an environment for a fish. ($1.99)

*Bug and Buttons – Math skills and manipulating numbers by moving the screen.

*Grandma's Garden – Matching, number groups, shapes and first letter sounds.

*Park Math HD – Numbers, counting, addition, subtraction, patterning and sorting. ($1.99)

  1. b.    First Grade:

*Teach Me 1st- ELA and Math similar to the Teach Me K but a level up. ($1.99)

*Lola's Math Ship – Simple number games that graduate to more challenging games when the child is ready. (Free or $1.99 version)

*Brain Quest Grades 1&2 – Math Science Language and Social Studies. ($4.99)

*Learning Gems Math – Work your way through a pirate map using math clues or answering math questions to find the treasures. Over 10,000 problems that are not repeated until the player works through all of them. Good for 1st through 4th math ($.99)

  1. c.    Second Grade:

*Teach Me 2nd- ELA and Math similar to the Teach Me K but 2 levels up. ($1.99)

*My Birds of Prey – Science facts about birds (Free or $1.99 version)

*Brain Quest Grades 1&2 – Math Science Language and Social Studies. ($4.99)

*Brain Quest Grades 2&3 – Math Science Language and Social Studies. ($4.99)

*Learning Gems Math – Work your way through a pirate map using math clues or answering math questions to find the treasures. Over 10,000 problems that are not repeated until the player works through all of them. Good for 1st through 4th math ($.99)

  1. a.    Third Grade:

*Teach Me 3rd- ELA and Math similar to the Teach Me K but 3 levels up. ($1.99)

*Mathtopia – Similar to Candy Crush with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. (Free or $3.99 expanded version)

*Barefoot World Atlas – An interactive 3-D globe to discover the rich wonders of our planet country by country. ($4.99)

*Toontastic – A creative story telling app where kids can draw, animate and share their own cartoons. Three different versions; Original, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda. (Free)

*Brain Quest Grades 2&3 – Math Science Language and Social Studies. ($4.99)

*Learning Gems Math – Work your way through a pirate map using math clues or answering math questions to find the treasures. Over 10,000 problems that are not repeated until the player works through all of them. Good for 1st through 4th math ($.99)

  1. a.    Fourth Grade:

*Barefoot World Atlas – An interactive 3-D globe to discover the rich wonders of our planet country by country. ($4.99)

*Bobo Explores Light – A fully functional science museum for kids age 4-12. ($4.99)

*Toontastic – A creative story telling app where kids can draw, animate and share their own cartoons. Three different versions; Original, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda. (Free)

*Brain Quest Grades 4&5 – Math Science Language and Social Studies. ($4.99)

*Learning Gems Math – Work your way through a pirate map using math clues or answering math questions to find the treasures. Over 10,000 problems that are not repeated until the player works through all of them. Good for 1st through 4th math ($.99)

  1. b.    Fifth Grade:

*Barefoot World Atlas – An interactive 3-D globe to discover the rich wonders of our planet country by country. ($4.99)

*Toontastic – A creative story telling app where kids can draw, animate and share their own cartoons. Three different versions; Original, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda. (Free)

*Brain Quest Grades 4&5 – Math Science Language and Social Studies. ($4.99)

*Slice It – A game where you slice different figures into the same ratio or area. (Free or $.99 version)

*Crazy Machines Golden Gears Lite – Logic Puzzles (Free or $2.99 version)

**BONUS: LOCKING YOUR IPAD – Did you know that you can lock your iPad or Tablet to remain on one app only? It is called, Guided Access. Here is how you do it on an iPad:

This is the initial set-up that you only need to do once and then access it easily every time. In Settings go to General to Accessibility, then scroll to learning section and turn on Guided Access, then set passcode and enter a 4 digit code.

After the initial set-up, select any app and open it, then triple click the home button. Guided Access is now enabled. To turn off, triple click and enter the passcode.

Create a summer that balances rest, relaxation, and fun with learning. Use the many opportunities that summer offers to help your children grow their brain. If you do you will help your children begin the new school year right where they left off when school ended this year and the only summer slide they experience will be the one at the recreation center or water park.

Thomas Haller is the co-authors of several highly acclaimed books including: Parent Talk Essentials, How to Talk to Your Kids about Divorce, Sex, Money, School and Being Responsible in Today's World. He is one of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. Visit www.thomashaller.com

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