Help Prevent the Summer Brain Drain

Originally published on the Ridgewood Moms website

Summer is a time for playing outside, splashing in the pool, and ‎making sand castles at the beach. Yet during this fun-filled season, many students lose one to three months’ worth of learning without continued academic instruction. Help your child prevent summer brain drain while still having fun with the ideas detailed below.

Read Daily!

Encourage your child to spend some time each day reading; a book, newspaper, comic, magazine, or internet article will all do the trick. You might try taking him to a book store or library at the start of summer and encourage him to find a book series or set of topics he’s interested in reading. Perhaps have him select a summer theme, like animals, presidents, or natural disasters, and choose books that follow that theme. For instance, your 6-9 year old who loves animals might select titles including My Father’s Dragon, Frog and Toad are Friends, or Diary of a Fly – all of which should capture his interest with engaging prose relating to animals.

You might also try creating a “book-a-thon” within your family where you chart how many books each family member reads (yes, including you!). The winner can earn a pre-determined prize, like a toy, movie, or special meal. The idea is to keep your child reading all summer, while making it as fun and engaging as possible.

Keep Up the Writing

In addition to reading, writing regularly throughout the summer can help prevent summer skills loss. Your child can write letters or emails to her friends, jot down summaries of her daily activities, or even write grocery lists or ideas for summer activities. If she needs more guided support, try giving her a daily or weekly writing prompt, and have ‎ her keep a summer journal. For instance, you might give her prompts like “Describe your favorite outdoor game,” “If you could be any animal, which would it be and why?” or ” Describe your dream dessert.” Additionally, ‎as she reads and complete books over the summer, have her write a summary in her own words describing each book (model one first so she knows what to do), and remind her to always self-check her writing for capitalization, punctuation, and sentence structure. Perhaps add in an incentive once she completes a certain number of books and writes a summary for each one. The more writing, the better!

Highlights Magazine

For young kids, Highlights magazine is an engaging and fun tool that helps continue building skills over the summer. This magazine, designed for kids ages 6-12, covers many important skills, including finding hidden pictures (great for developing visual spatial skills), riddles, jokes, What’s Wrong with this picture? activities, puzzles, short stories, poems, and so much more! It’s also a great way to help your child practice independent work – encourage him to only ask you questions when he is stuck. Your preschooler or Kindergartener might like the “younger” version of Highlights called High Five‎, which contains stories, puzzles, and engaging activities that are great for summer skills building.


Most kids love swiping and playing on a tablet, so why make “tech” time “learning” time? ‎ There are many great apps your child can use to keep her learning flowing throughout the summer and prevent academic skills loss. Some great ones are as follows:

Sentence Builder – Ages 6+

With this app, players have fun developing their grammar and sentence-writing abilities, a key skill for academic success. To play, they create sentences describing various pictures using slot machine-style wheels for choosing words. The game format is simple, beginning with basic sentences and later moving into more complex ones. The images and animations are colorful, and students build key written expression and sentence-structure skills.

Starfall Learn to Read – Ages 4+

This multi-sensory app helps students develop their reading and spelling skills as they listen, read, and touch letters and words, while having fun with the songs and colorful animations. The app includes 15 short books for kids to read, each covering a different sound pattern, along with animated videos, tunes, and funny characters. At the end of each book, students can complete activities related to the reading, including interactive matching and fill-in-the-blank exercises.

Hungry Fish – Ages 4-8

This app is a great one for developing math skills over the summer. Its focus is reinforcing basic addition and subtraction as well as mental math in a fun and engaging manner. To play, kids drag and combine numbers in bubbles and then feed them to a floating fish. The fish expands when it is given “food” (otherwise known as correct answer combinations) and shrinks down when it does not receive food. As players complete and “win” each level, they move on to more advanced levels, while receiving immediate feedback along the way. It’s a useful and learning tool that can easily be disguised as simply a fun video game.

Summer is a time when many students regress academically. Prevent the infamous summer slide with these learning-focused activities, and your child will be well on his way to jump-starting the new school year on a positive note.

Dear Dr. Levy, My son received an excellent report card. I can’t say enough good things about his EBL tutor. She has done a tremendous job helping him improve his reading and writing skills. Most importantly, she is wise and kind. She is always patient with him. Because of his tutor, my son writes with much more ease.
– Parent