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Combatting Summer Brain Drain: Expert Tips from Mrs. Wordsmith

Posted at 10:06 AM, Jun 05, 2024

Disclaimer: This Inside South Florida segment is sponsored by Mrs. Wordsmith. All opinions and views are of the advertiser and does not reflect the same of WSFL-TV.

The summer break is often a time for fun and relaxation, but it can also lead to a phenomenon known as "summer brain drain" or the "summer slide," where students lose significant academic gains made during the school year. Research shows that elementary school students, in particular, can lose an average of 20% of their school year gains in reading over the summer. This loss can contribute to widening achievement gaps over time. Brandon Cardet-Hernandez, a former teacher and principal and now Chief Strategy Officer for Mrs. Wordsmith, joined Inside South Florida to discuss the issue and share strategies for parents to help their children stay academically engaged during the summer months.

When asked to define summer brain drain, Brandon explained, “Any educator in Miami or in South Florida will tell you, we've been thinking about summer brain drain for a long time. We know that when we send a kid home for the summer, oftentimes, they're returning back having lost a lot of the skills that they had developed the year before.” He highlighted that this phenomenon is well-documented, with data indicating that 20% of learning can be lost during the summer if children are not actively engaged in educational activities.

The consequences of summer brain drain extend beyond just a few months. “Only 36% of fourth graders, 37% of high school students are reading on grade level,” Brandon noted. This existing gap can be exacerbated by summer learning loss, leading to a cumulative effect over the years. “Over multiple summers of learning loss, a kid can lose up to two years of learning,” he said, emphasizing the critical nature of maintaining educational engagement to support both academic and social-emotional development.

Brandon was clear that maintaining educational engagement during the summer doesn’t mean turning the home into a classroom. “Summer should be fun. It should be joyful. Kids should be out with their friends doing really interesting things,” he said. Instead, he suggested integrating learning into everyday activities in a fun and engaging manner.

For younger children, Brandon recommended educational games like Mrs. Wordsmith’s “Ridiculous,” which helps early readers practice decoding skills and sight words. For older children, he suggested “Word Tag,” a high-energy game that combines collecting coins with solving word problems to build vocabulary. Beyond screen-based activities, he encouraged parents to engage in word games at home, such as choosing a word of the day and creating friendly competitions to see who can use it the most. “The winner chooses dessert,” he added, making it clear that learning can be both educational and enjoyable.

Reading together as a family is another powerful tool. “Reading to our kids, reading at home, modeling reading, creating a culture that 20 minutes a day, there's a lot we can do that can still allow summer to feel fun,” Brandon said.

For parents looking to learn more about strategies to prevent summer brain drain and the educational tools available, Brandon directed them to the website, mrswordsmith.com/science, where they can find more information on the science of reading and how to apply these strategies at home.

Inside South Florida

10:49 AM, Jul 26, 2019

Inside South Florida is an original, local lifestyle show focused on providing our audience with informative, useful and entertaining content. It features a variety of community organizations, businesses and happenings in South Florida. It is a marketing-friendly program dedicated to offering businesses the opportunity to showcase their company/products, reach potential customers and gain results.

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