Summer Brain Gains – Helping Children Prevent the Summer Slide
For years, parents and children have been faced with the dreaded summer slide, a time when the school year ends and summer learning loss begins. And as if it wasn’t detrimental enough in it’s own rights, this year the summer slide has been accelerated by the COVID slide and trauma related to the pandemic. The reality of this is that children’s cognitive performance has decreased earlier than usual. To counteract this, it’s essential that children have access to a summer program that fosters brain development while also keeping health and safety top of mind.
For most children, actual learning of new information abruptly ended and school districts did their best to put something into place to aid in finishing out the year. However, even with the most well-intended efforts, children just weren’t getting out of school what they typically do. Coupled with the stress of complete routine changes and minimal social interactions, children’s enthusiasm, for just about anything, eventually dwindled. This all has culminated into “brain strains” which stifles healthy development.
We know parents want the best for their children and in the wake of the pandemic, health is of the upmost concern. We also know that children’s development doesn’t stop because of a pandemic. Because of this, finding programs that follow recommended guidelines to protect children’s health while also turning “brain strains” into “brain gains” is essential. And although this may seem like an impossible feat, there is a solution.
The SKILLZ program is a child development course that uses martial arts as the vehicle for advancement in physical, intellectual, emotional, and social growth. This system was developed from the latest research in areas of child development and psychology. By using unconventional ways of learning, students’ active learning is engaged, which initiates their working memory. As this is done, new neural connections are being made so fluid intelligence increases.
One of the most effective ways this is done is by utilizing neurobics in each class. This alternate approach to learning involves “warming-up” the brain to prime it for learning. Things such as counting backwards by 10’s, counting by using superhero names, etc. gets the right and left hemispheres of the brain engaged and working together. And since fun and motivation are used as part of the SKILLZ process, these positive experiences activate the brain’s reward center, which ultimately creates new neural connections. This, in turn, has a way of healing past trauma all the while, activating cognitive performance again.
This summer children need a break from a break. It’s essential that they engage in programs that create “brain gains” but also put health and safety first. The SKILLZ program has multiple ways of doing both ranging from day camps, to in studio classes, to virtual classes. The teaching techniques used are applied in all these settings and ensure that children are using their brains to improve cognitive performance and gain confidence and enthusiasm again.
Author: Jennifer Salama of Skillz Worldwide.
Jennifer is a 4th-degree black belt and has been training in martial arts since 2001. She has a Masters Degree in Child Psychology and has embraced the SKILLZ curriculum because of its focus on child development and using martial arts as a vehicle to develop the child as a whole.