Thursday, July 03, 2014

Montessori Learning Doesn't Have to Stop in the Summer Months

Lately I have been hearing about parents worried about “summer brain drain.” Their worry seems compounded by the plethora of advertising on the web, marketing ploys aimed at keeping children constantly learning. I have also seen signs on telephone poles for all sorts of learning camps, and even the local library’s summer reading series is focusing on retention. From the media, it appears that as soon as students walk out of school on the last day, their brains instantly turn off and the flow of information stops and even regresses.

Summer learning loss is a real phenomenon, more often effecting children who are from lower income families. On average, however, the regression is not significant and equals about a month of learning. (Raulerson, 2013) Without formal instruction, mathematics tends to suffer more than reading. (Raulerson, 2013) This makes sense as it is easier for most parents and students to pick up a book than specfically work on math skills.

Incorporating Montessori Learning into Your Summer Routine

As Montessori teachers and parents, we know that learning does not stop just because a child is not in school. Research supports this, maintaining that the brain is changing and learning all the time based on experiences in the environment. (Jensen, 2014) Without a stimulating environment, however, the experiences are rather mundane and passive.

This does not mean you have to run out and buy workbooks that encourage drill-and-kill rote memorization or that you have to enroll your children in summer camps that tout raising the math and reading levels of your children in 2 weeks. Nor does it mean that relaxation or even playing video games have to be off limits. It does mean that, as Montessori parents, we need to prepare the summer environment to be an enriching experience full of active learning opportunities.

Here are just a few suggestions that you can easily incorporate into your summer lifestyle.

Math LanguagePractical LifeHistoryScience
Play cardsListen to audio books in the carGardenVisit local historical landmarksVisit the beach or mountains
String a necklace or braceletSend postcards when on vacationPet sit for a neighborVisit a history museumGo on nature walks
Make a favorite recipe (double or halve)Make a comic book or graphic novelRoast marshmallows and make S’moresMake clothing from a favorite time period and dress upVisit an aquarium or zoo
Go shopping with only loose changeSing campfire songsPaint a fenceLive without electricity for a day or twoGo stargazing

There are so many wonderful, real-world learning experiences around us. We do not need to rely on contrived learning opportunities or continually present math flashcards to keep young minds active. We do need to remember what it is like to be a child and the wonder that discovery and exploration can bring.

Consider this summer as a time of opportunity to help your children learn about the world and their place in it.

Works Cited
Jensen, Eric. “10 dangerous myths every educator should know about the brain.” Brain Based Learning. April 20, 2014.
Raulerson, Josh. “Separating myth from fact in 'summer brain drain'.” WESA. June 11, 2013.

Michelle Irinyi — NAMC Tutor & Graduate

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, July 3, 2014.


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