Brain Drain: Combat Summertime Loss of Knowledge and Have Fun

My little guy has just finished preschool and now attends summer camp at the same place. He’s also gone from 3 days a week to 5 days a week in preparation for kindergarten in September – eeek! Where do the years go? He is always on the move, singing, dancing, reciting his ABC’s and being what I thought was just a normal 4.5 year old – thriving, learning, soaking everything in. So I was super surprised when I started hearing about summer loss of knowledge and particularly how by the time kids return to school in September, their teachers will need to spend the first 4-6 weeks reteaching what they already learnt the previous year. Wow.

While we’ve had this heatwave, I can see how easy it can be to just loaf around and do nothing when there is a heat advisory to stay inside from 9AM to 9PM. Mr 4.5 was off for the week that we reached high 90s and we lay low with little Miss 8 months. I have to admit, with work to do, and heat-induced brain fog and lethargy, it was almost too easy to just plop him down in front of the TV for long stints.

Instead, I’ve made the conscious decision to search out the teachable moments in everyday life.

Even with the heat, we have managed to get out to the park, hit the sprinklers, run the track (he loves to run), swim and go for walks. The fact that there is evidence kids also gain weight in the summer is a statistic I do not want our family to be part of. We make sure to get outside everyday even if its just the walk to camp. On our recent quick trip to Montreal, we even staged a 72 hour Summer Olympics, celebrating his achievements along the way.

I’m also always working on new ways for us to keep his brain (and body) engaged even when we are inside. Here are a few of the ways we find teachable moments, but most importantly have fun…because after all, it is summer!


Mr. 4.5 actually dug this one up and besides being fun to play we also go over shapes, colors, left and right while playing. Word to the Mamas and Papas out there, you might want to stretch before playing :)

She practices crawling and attempts to walk while he also gives his brain a workout

Keeping out of the heat, but keeping fit

Turn off the TV, read a book or two and recreate the images

Having him draw new images for  a book we have just read together is an interesting exercise. It’s so interesting to see his imagination at work. Great for comprehension, literacy and spending time together.

Revisit what he already knows

Because I helped him do homework 2 times a week, I know what new concepts his teachers have taught him. I try to bring them up in everyday life so not only does he retain this knowledge, but so he can actually build on it and understand the real life application. Sometimes its a game, like tic tac toe to go over the concepts of “horizontal” , “diagonal” and “vertical”, sometimes its just talking something through, grabbing that teachable moment.

Here he is practicing the song he had to sing at preschool graduation. The fact that it is associated with graduation also makes us discuss the future and what he wants to be when he grows up.

Daily check-in

Going over the day and date as well as weather is a great way to practice writing and simple everyday concepts. I’m also trying to get better at asking him about the best part of his day. This sometimes brings up big elaborate stories and at times just a simple answer. Whatever he says doesn’t matter as much as the art of conversation and watching his little face light up as he weaves his tale.

Make use of  Cultural attractions

Penguins at the New York Aquarium

Embrace teachable moments over the summer. It is one thing that most New York City parents agree they love about New York – endless museums,  science centers, zoos, big buildings and Libraries to explore. We visited the New York Aquarium on pay-what-you-want Friday and checked out the penguins and heaps of fishies. We talked about who swims, who flies, what environments the animals live in and I learnt a thing or 2 myself along the way. Walking and exploring your city is also a great way to have fun while learning in the summer.

Car and subway travel ideas

With summer also comes more travel in cars and on buses and subways for some families. We’re planning small getaways and already we are getting around the city more than we did in winter. That’s when we bust out old fave car games like “I Spy”. What kiddo doesn’t love that game?

Weight gain in summer is surprisingly also an issue. Find out how we keep active in this house.

What’s your plan to combat summer knowledge loss?


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5 Responses to Brain Drain: Combat Summertime Loss of Knowledge and Have Fun
  1. […] someone who used to teach physical education to children of all ages, the concept of brain drain and kids gaining weight over summer because they no longer have access to organized physical […]

  2. Mina Slater
    Twitter: Mina_Slater
    July 10, 2012 | 12:45 pm

    I was just discussing this with Mr. Man yesterday…about how different summer breaks are now from when we were growing up. I remember constantly being active, learning new things while still having fun, reading books and being excited and ready for the next school year. It’s so important to be active and get your kids out of the house or be creative when inside instead of imply letting them watch television or play video games alone all day. We live in Florida which thankfully is also a great environment for learning with museums, beaches, lakes, libraries & wildlife preserves. I really love the idea of drawing new images for books we’ve read, kiddo loves to draw o I think we’ll definitely give that a try!
    Mina Slater recently posted..Revlon Expression Experiment | Express Yourself With MakeupMy Profile

  3. Ashley S
    July 10, 2012 | 1:35 pm

    Looks like they had a blast with Twister! What fun :)
    Ashley S recently posted..Celebrate National Piña Colada Day ~ July 10th!My Profile

  4. Gain Weight
    September 23, 2012 | 1:14 pm

    Yea true kids gain weight in summer but its nothing to be alarmed from.
    Usually its a muscle weight because kids have free time from school and they play alot may be swim in the beach which increase their muscle mass.

    So whatever they are eating they are burning and its all healthy!

  5. […] are some general and New York specific ideas to combat summer loss of learning that we came up with this past […]

KiwiCanadian expat adventures with my husband and 2 kids from life in New Zealand to New York and back again. Adventures in inspired family living, travel, health & fitness.Read More »