Kiddo Korner: Exercising Brains this Summer

The Covid-19 pandemic really took a toll on academics. It forced parents, teachers, and students to adapt quickly to a highly independent learning style. This lack of structure really took a toll on our children.

According to Student Support Coordinator for Mountaintop Montessori School and president of the Virginia Montessori Association, Trisha Willingham and psychology professor at the University of Virginia and National Board for Education Sciences board member, Daniel Willingham, "Recent analyses show that distance learning went poorly; most students will be far behind where they should be this fall...Covid-19 swept away that structure...and this year, summer, which is traditionally the structure-free season, comes with social distancing, closed camps, and in some cases, expectations kids will make up schoolwork."

Parents and teachers are in for an uphill battle to undo the damage from the sudden lack of routine and structure, BUT this summer, there are several things parents can do to help. Below, we've given you a quick rundown on the top 4 ways!

Stick to a Routine

Even though Summer can be a great opportunity for kiddos to "take a break" from all the responsibilities of school, it shouldn't be a true free-for-all. Make sure you establish a routine and stick to it! Focus on a freedom-within-boundaries approach. This involves helping your child to resist distractions when taking care of their established responsibilities, but involving them in the planning. Here's how Trisha and Daniel Willingham say practicing this impulse control applies to schoolwork:

"Planning and resisting distraction are actually related — both are examples of what psychologists call executive function. Just as a CEO directs workers, the executive directs other cognitive processes. Although the mechanism is not completely understood, it’s broadly accepted that suppression is a key function of the executive. When the child aims to watch a video for history but feels the impulse to check Instagram, the executive must squelch the distracting thought. Mind-wandering can’t be eliminated; good focus means good control of impulses."

Combine Virtual and Tangible Learning

Yes, things are starting to open back up, but with new guidelines, it's certainly harder to organize a family museum trip. So, for the sake of convenience (and safety), we tend to opt for those virtual field trips. While that's totally fine every once in a while, limiting media time, in general, is more beneficial for the developing brain. You can absolutely get out and enjoy an educational, fun, and safe experience even during a pandemic.

The Children's Hospital of Orange County says, "Children who spend more time outdoors have improved motor development and lower obesity rates. Playing outside promotes more curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking — especially essential with schools closed and extra-curricular activities canceled." They suggest: