(BPT) - When parents and educators discuss the "summer slide," they aren't talking about the cool new feature at the community pool. The term refers to the learning loss that kids experience over summer break, and unfortunately it can have a dramatic impact on their academic success.
During the long lazy days of summer, kids lose knowledge. In fact, 66 percent of teachers spend three to four weeks re-teaching students course material at the beginning of the year, while 24 percent of teachers spend at least five to six weeks re-teaching material from the previous school year, according to a survey from the National Summer Learning Association.
Important science, technology, engineering and math skills can suffer the most. To retain knowledge, kids must regularly do activities that incorporate STEM. Fortunately, parents can turn summer “brain drain” into “brain gain” by finding fun STEM-centered activities that are educational and entertaining.
Mini mad scientists can unite with a few fun kitchen experiments. By using safe ingredients, you can teach kids important scientific theories. Can you mix water and oil? Record the reaction and research why. What happens when you blend baking soda and vinegar? Explore the science behind the outcome. Search "kitchen science experiments" online for more ideas.
Kids are naturally curious about technology, and educational apps can turn phone and tablet time into learning time. Parents can share one of their favorite childhood characters with their kids in a 21st century format with the Nancy Drew: Codes & Clues app. This story-driven hidden-object mobile game introduces children ages 5-8 to the foundational principles of coding. Players are presented with basic computer programming structures, such as sequences and loops, as they program their robot puppy to help them solve the mystery. Learn more at www.nancydrewcodesandclues.com.
Engineering is a connective fiber through every STEM activity. Because kids love to build and create, select activities that blend creativity with logic and problem-solving tasks. For example, buy a model and build it at home. Explore robotics and create a basic robot out of household materials. Work together to finally build that tree fort in the backyard. Engineering knowledge is gained through each step of these building projects.
Math skills take a heavy hit over break. According to OnlineCollege.org, students lose about two months of math computational skills over the summer. Inspire young number-crunchers with activities that demonstrate real-life applications of math. Try selecting a recipe and practice measuring and computing fractions. Bonus: learn about cooking chemistry! Another idea is to rearrange bedrooms by having kids create a scale model of the space by calculating room and furniture size.
With these fun STEM activities, you won't have to worry about the summer slide and brain drain. Both you and your kids will be smiling about brain gain from all the fun things they're doing that they don't even realize are educational.