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No Summer Class Needed! 4 Ways to Keep Your Child's Brain Active
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  • Not to dampen anyone's summer vacation mode, but researchers have noted that there's a lot of learning loss happening during these long summer months that our kids are not in the classroom. Our kids forget many of the facts and concepts they learned throughout the school year, which means teachers must spend a considerable amount of time retraining students on essential pre-requisite knowledge and skills when classes resume. But because teachers can't wait for each and every student to get on the same page, many kids run the risk of falling behind.

    To avoid that, here are some ideas to help your child review important facts and concepts over summer break, but done in a way that doesn't feel like they're studying: 

    Recall important fact and figures with board games
    In my article, "Help Your Child Ace Her Exams," I offered some ideas on how you and your child can review for exams in a way that promotes autonomy and self-regulation. You can apply some of those same tips for summer learning.

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    One idea in that article involved making simple games that your child can play with friends to help them recall facts and figures. This summer, let your child invite friends for an afternoon of board games, which they have to make on their own and it is related to the topics they learned in class. This works well for subjects that are heavy on terminology, facts and figures, such as Social Studies or Science. 

    For instance, they can draw a simple board that looks like Monopoly on an illustration board or sheet of cartolina. Supply them with a large stack of blank index cards on which to write true or false/multiple choice questions related to the topics they learned in school. To construct these question cards, obviously, they need to crack open their textbooks and review what they learned (you sneaky, mom, you) 

    For each question, they can write instructions on the number of steps that each player can move, depending on whether that player got the answer right or wrong (e.g. "Move 5 steps forward if your answer is correct. If your answer is wrong, move 3 steps back"). The objective is to answer as many questions correctly and race to the finish line.

    Challenge them to come up with different board games and their own mechanics, and you will be surprised at what these kids can come up with!

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    Let them use the camera 
    Another strategy I've used to review for exams with my daughter was to let her make videos of herself explaining some of the topics in her pointers for review, like a YouTube tutorial. You can apply this to summer learning by inviting your child's friends over to make video tutorials of various subjects. 

    It will work well for reviewing math, since verbalizing one's understanding of math concepts enhances learning. In general, this strategy is useful for any subject matter where organizing and articulating one's thoughts deepens mastery of the content. 

    So, for instance, have your child and her friends make videos with the use of a whiteboard to explain mathematical concepts, formulas and procedures they learned throughout the year. You can also Google science projects and experiments that are related to the topics they learned in science, and have them demonstrate that project or experiment in a video. 

    Of course, make the effort to watch the videos they produce, to show them your support (and to process any misconceptions in their understanding of certain topics.) If you're feeling particularly supportive, you might even want to plan a "Video Preview" sleepover.

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    Teach with travel
    Since summer vacation is the time for road trips, why not visit any of the historical sites or landmarks that your child studied in social studies? Your child can prepare for this trip by reviewing what she read about in the textbook, and writing down questions or thoughts on things she would like to explore further at the actual site.

    You can deepen your child's learning even more by equipping her with a camera, a pen and a notebook to take pictures and jot down notes that she will eventually convert into a scrapbook, memoir or travel brochure.

    Take advantage of online learning
    Last but not least, check out the videos and learning resources on Khan Academy for Math, Science, and English grammar. They even have materials for older kids, such as economics, finance, arts and humanities. This may seem more like "studying" to some kids, but the fact that it is online may spark the interest of our digital natives.

    Mom to a 17-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter, Angela Abaya-Garcia earned her master’s degree in Psychology from the Ateneo de Manila University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Educational Psychology at De La Salle University (Manila), where she also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on child development, research methods, learning and teaching.

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