Building brain muscles

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As teachers, we look forward to summer to take some time and try to relax, take a break from the rigid schedules, spend time with family, get paid for “doing nothing” (that’s our favorite, right?)…

But I also know, as teachers, ideas for the coming year start flowing whether we want them to or not.  I am always planning, somewhere in the deep crevices of my brain, even when I’m trying to focus on doing nothing.

The nurturing side of us wants our students to have an enjoyable summer and spend time with their families. But – we know that they should continue with something academic during their vacation.  With my experience in various grade levels, I have seen the power of summer.  Summer can be a glorious time for students to develop in their maturity and “catch up” on some things they struggled with over the school year.  Summer can also be an academic villain – causing backsliding, even in above average students.  Don’t get me wrong – summer is an awesome thing.  Our babies need that time to recoup from the rigors of the school year.  I’m not suggesting that parents need to enroll in summer school today. No, not at all, I’m just merely suggesting that our students continue with practicing what they learned this past school year.  And – READ! Read, read, read!

Our brains are like muscles – and muscles need exercise.  I can look in the mirror and tell you what happens to my body when I don’t exercise.  I can feel it in my muscles after that first run in a while.  And yes – I believe you can feel it in your brain too.  During school, we use our brains in a much different way than we do in other aspects of our life.  By exercising it over the summer, we keep it in proper shape – maintaining what we already know and easing the transition back into school in the fall.

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Reading is such a great exercise for the youngest of minds.  While reading, they are able to practice decoding and comprehension skills. They build their creativity and imagination by being transported into other worlds with fictional characters.  They can answer their own barrage of “WHY?” by diving in to nonfictional texts.  All of these things happen while being read to as well.  So, while on summer break, parents consider the following:

1) Play those road trip games!  Many incorporate reading and math in the same game! http://www.pbs.org/parents/summer/road-trip-games-for-kids/

2) Check out local story hours.  Barnes and Noble offers storytimes weekly (sometimes biweekly) and never forget your local library! Story times are listed on the website.

3) Incorporate online stories
http://www.storylineonline.net/
http://www.magickeys.com/books/
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/online-storytime-books-toys/379003588/
http://www.tumblebooks.com/library/asp/customer_login.asp?accessdenied=%2Flibrary%2Fasp%2Fhome_tumblebooks.asp (not a free site, but many schools have subscriptions)
http://www.wegivebooks.org/ (read online and do a good deed all at the same time)

4) Encourage creative play inside and outside

5) Participate in fun activities together
http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/collection/outdoor-activities/fun-sun-activities

6) Visit one of my personal favorites – http://www.storybots.com

7) And of course – READ!

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*Stay tuned for suggestions on working with struggling readers during the summer months*

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1 Comment

Filed under Literacy

One response to “Building brain muscles

  1. Your words are so true! Only hope that others can see the value of this and maintain it as best as possible with their children.

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