web analytics
March 2, 2015 / 11 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Beating Brain Drain

Schonfeld-logo1

For children, summer means outdoor sports, picnics, and of course, no school! Teachers and students work hard all year long – and everyone deserves a break from education over the summer. However, this two-month break can often have some pretty devastating consequences.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University discovered that children tend to lose approximately two and half months worth of material over the summer. That is, rather than retaining the material they have mastered during the school year, students who do not flex their academic muscles over the summer revert back to the skills they had in April as opposed to June. Researchers call this phenomenon “summer brain drain.”

In The New York Times, Harris Cooper of Duke University notes, “There is growing concern about the summer vacation’s possible negative impact on learning. Many educators argue that children learn best when instruction is continuous. The long

summer vacation disrupts the rhythm of instruction, leads to forgetting, and requires time be spent reviewing old material when students return to school in fall.” That means that without any intervention, children can begin the next grade reading and doing math at a lower level than the previous year. Additionally, because reading and math are cumulative subjects, when the students have to relearn what they have previously mastered, this further sets them back.

Often, it is the students who can least afford to lose the reading gains they’ve achieved during the school year who fall the farthest behind when they return to

the classroom after a summer away from formal literacy instruction. On the other hand, studies have shown that with a minimal amount of effort on the part of parents and children, it is possible to have modest gains in skills over the summer. What this means is that over the course of grades one through six (when basic skills are ingrained and solidified), summer loss or gain can contribute to more than a year and a half decline or growth in skills.

Battling “Summer Brain Drain”

So, how can we as parents and educators ensure that our children continue to use their brains over the summer, but do not regard the reading and math that they do as “work?” How can we teach our children that learning can and should take place outside of the classroom in addition to in the classroom?

Choice. Usually in school, children are forced to read the books that their teachers assign, whether the subject appeals to them or not. Denise Pope, a co-founder of Challenge Success, a research and student intervention project, explains that motivation plays a central role in engagement with learning and, subsequently, student achievement. If students are given choice and voice in the learning process, for example, they are more likely to want to learn the material and more likely to retain it. Therefore, allow your child to choose his own reading material over the summer – and offer a wide selection so that he can find books to his liking. Give your child plenty of choices when it comes to topics to read about – but don’t assume that you know what she is interested in reading. Elementary-aged children jump from one interest to another with lightning speed.

Goals. In order to keep her motivated, give her a target number of books she should read. For instance, she should read five books over the summer to maintain any progress she made in reading during the school year. Work on getting her to read twenty minutes each day, steadily increasing to thirty minutes by the end of the summer. This reading time can be done after “bedtime” when your child would normally be asleep, making her feel like reading is a special privilege.

Involvement with others. Everything is more enjoyable when you do it with someone else – learning included. Adults have book clubs to discuss literature and men learn with chavrusahs. Reading often seems like a solitary experience, but it need not be that way. There are many ways to guarantee that reading can be a shared experience: read with your child, set up a literary café with her peers (complete with book themed foods), and find reading opportunities around you on the street.

Switch off. If she has required summer reading, be sure to balance the books she is interested in with the reading-list books. Have them both on hand so that she can switch between them.

In order to ensure that your goals are met, incorporate some rewards based on reading. As opposed to physical rewards, the most beneficial reading rewards are experiences:

Take a book-based trip. If your daughter reads a book about the circus, consider attending one. If she reads a mystery novel about a stolen painting from a museum, go visit a museum and look at the paintings that spark her interest. The whole family can get involved with these trips as well. This sends the message that adventures and excitement begin in books – but can be carried over into everyday life experiences.

Make book-based foods. Depending on the book that your daughter is reading – choose a food that the characters eat and have a cooking adventure together. For example, if your daughter is reading Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, attempt to recreate some of the fantastical candies that are featured in the magical story. Alternatively, if she is reading Louise Fitzugh’s Harriet the Spy, concoct your own tomato sandwiches that are so delicious – they might be stolen too.

Another great way to get your child involved in reading (and to show her the power of reading) is to get her involved in reading to others. If you know of a local elderly relative, neighbor, or friend who is housebound, consider setting up a weekly “reading session.” Your daughter could perform a mitzvah and also learn that her proficient reading can positively affect others.

Of course, the summer is about the warm weather, family time, and relaxation. The key is figuring out how to make those pleasurable parts of summer merge with some educational activity. This way, when your children get back to school, they won’t be faced with “brain drain” and can pick up right where they left off. Or, if done right, you never know, they may even get a head start on the rest of the year.

Happy reading!

About the Author: An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation,, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net. Visit her on the web at rifkaschonfeldsos.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Beating Brain Drain”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
CNN's Poppy Harlow and Rabbi Boteach.
Rabbi Boteach Shoots Back at Critics and Call Susan Rice a ‘Bully’ [video]
Latest Sections Stories
Golan Wine Medals

‘Double Gold’ awarded to 2012 Yarden Heights wine & 2011 Yarden Merlot Kela Single Vineyard.

Niehaus-022715

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

Mendlowitz-022715-Basket

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Astaire-022715-Countryside

One of the earliest special Purims we have on record was celebrated by the Jews of Granada and Shmuel HaNagid, the eleventh-century rav, poet, soldier and statesman, and one of the most influential Jews in Muslim Spain.

Jews, wake up! Stop educating the world and start educating yourselves.

The lessons conform to the sensitivities and needs of the Orthodox community…

The program took on special significance as it marked not only the first anniversary of Rebbetzin Kudan’s levayah but also the 27th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, a”h.

It captures the love of the Jewish soul as only Shlomo Hamelech could portray it – and as only Rabbi Miller could explain it.

Erudite and academic, drawing from ancient and modern sources, the book can be discussed at the Shabbos table as well as in kollel.

I’m here to sit next to you and help you through this Purim with three almost-too-easy mishloach manot ideas, all made with cost-conscious paper bags.

Kids want to be like their friends, and they want to give and get “normal” mishloach manos stocked with store-bought treats.

Whenever he did anything loving for me, I made a big deal about it.

“OMG, it’s so cute, you’re so cute, everything is so cute.”

A program that started with a handful of volunteers has grown exponentially to include students from a wider array of backgrounds.

More Articles from Rifka Schonfeld
Schonfeld-logo1

Tutor. Counselor. The doctor too,
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with you.

Schonfeld-logo1

Pioneering authors Peg Dawson and Richard Guare, in their book Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, outline the ways that we employ executive skills regularly.

Because I get phone calls about this all the time, I have put together a quick “cheat sheet” with milestones for reading, writing, and math from first grade through high school.

The reason behind this is that when we ask our brains and bodies to make drastic changes, our fight or flight response kicks in and we become paralyzed.

Why is there such a steep learning curve for teachers? And what can we, as educators and community activists, do better in the educational system and keep first-year teachers in the job?

With so many new cases of ADHD reported each year, it is important to help children learn how to sit still.

While encouraging your child to take responsibility for bed-wetting (like asking him to change the sheets), remember that it is important not to get angry or make him feel guilty.

As we said, you cannot get rid of a bad habit, you can only change it. But, how?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/beating-brain-drain/2013/06/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: