Summer is here. The kids are out of school. As we near the beginning of a new school year, parents may worry that the lack of structure during the summer may have caused their kids to forget what they learned the previous year. We call that the summer brain drain. Science shows there is some reason for concern.
Our brains are plastic, meaning they change and grow throughout our entire lives. If we stop learning, our brains get in a rut, and neuroplasticity stops. That’s why it’s important to experience new things and continue to learn new skills even in summer.
Learning new things is good for your brain. Practicing something new increases the white matter in your brain responsible for learning and functioning, activity, and communication between different regions of the brain. So keeping an active brain is important to brain function overall.
Learning something new or doing routine tasks in a new way also stimulates new neural pathways in the brain, building that neuroplasticity we’re all looking for, as well as making those connections faster and stronger so our response time and problem-solving abilities are faster and stronger. Building strong neural connections is also a great way to prevent dementia and age-related decline and starting early is a great way to ensure a strong brain later on in life.
What are the Benefits?
Some benefits of learning a new skill during summer break are:
- Time Slows Down. Have you ever noticed how as you age, time moves faster and faster? That’s because as we get older our brains have already experienced a significant amount of the things we do in a day so it no longer takes special notice of our habits. Thus, no memories are stored of this information and time seems to move at a faster pace. Learning something new helps your brain mark new habits, new memories and new skills and slows the pace of time. So if your kids want a longer summer break, they should learn something new so their brain marks the time more slowly.
- Conquer Fears. Many of us fear trying new things. It’s not really a fear of the “thing.” It’s fear of the unknown. The more we try new things, the less that fear has hold of our brains. We learn to have more confidence the more new things we try and fear diminishes. You learn to become more adventurous and trying new things doesn’t seem so intimidating anymore.
- Discover Hidden Talents. What if you could be the next Gordon Ramsey but you never tried to cook;pr if you were as accomplished a singer as Lady Gaga but never sang a note? What if you could paint like Picasso or build like Michaelangelo but never tried? Trying new things not only makes your brain stronger but helps you figure out what your skill sets are and what you can accomplish in life.
There are so many ways your child can increase brain power over summer and avoid brain drain. Here are some of our favorites!
Prevent Summer Brain Drain
- We know this can be a tough one for some parents to get their kids to do during summer break but even ten minutes of reading keeps the brain active during the waning days of summer and will help prepare your kids for the upcoming school year. If your children are younger, read to them at bedtime. They will gain the same benefits and build vocabulary skills.
- If your kids don’t want to read a book, try a recipe while you cook together in the kitchen. They’ll increase vocabulary while also working on math skills, motor skills and activities of daily living.
- Write or color. If your children are older, having them keep a summer journal, even a simple one is a great way to help them overcome beginning of the year struggles with back to school. Give them a starter question and have them answer it. If they’re younger, having them color their day is a similar benefit. Keep things simple and you’ll be more likely to guarantee participation.
- Pay Attention. Just paying attention to what your children are doing during the day is a good way to incorporate learning in natural ways throughout the day. Are they building a lego fort? Engage with them and encourage the motor skills. You can find ways to incorporate learning into play activities to prime the pump for the school year to come.
- You can download our BrainTap Pro App for free and have your kids listen to audio sessions for 20 minutes of downtime. While the BrainTap headset is a great add-on, the audio sessions alone encourage brain plasticity with the sounds and tones incorporated into them. Listening once a day is great, twice a day is better, and three times a day is optimal. We have subscriptions that fit any budget and need. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or get your free trial of BrainTap at www.braintap.info.
Just taking the time to engage with your kids and encouraging them to do their best at any activity is a great way to keep the brain engaged in any activity and will encourage neuroplasticity during the summer so they are ready for whatever the new school year throws at them. And that is the best way to beat the summer brain drain.