End of grade testing, field days, parties, camps, and vacations are topics of discussion as school days wind down. Kids who have not yet been dismissed for the summer are squirming in their seats with anticipation. Schoolwork from the year is coming home in piles and being tossed into the recycling bin. They quickly look the other way, as learning is something most want to put away for the summer. However, as parents, we understand that summer can also be an opportunity to learn and gain more confidence in many academic areas. The brain is like a muscle: the more we use it, the stronger it gets. Imagine our bodies not moving all summer. Now equate that to our brains not being used all summer. Chime in the moans, groans, cries of pain, and angry faces. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Enter Kahn Academy.
Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. Subjects covered are math, science, computer programming (learn how to program games like Crossy Road), history, art history, economics, drawing and more. Their program identifies strengths and learning gaps, so you can see where your child may need additional help. The dashboard also allows you to see how your child compares to other children in that subject area. Kahn Academy partners with institutions like NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, The California Academy of Sciences, and MIT to offer specialized content to create a unique learning experience. The site’s content has been created by dozens of individuals who specialize in their particular field.
Are you smarter than a fifth grader? Admittedly, I am losing when it comes to math. When my sixth grader came to me with math questions, I found myself searching all over Google. Well search no more! Kahn Academy offers free math tutors 24/7. You child can take advantage of Kahn’s free instructional videos and exercises to help them work through a problem. If your child isn’t being challenged enough, there are opportunities to work ahead of current material at their own desired pace. Or maybe you have child who would like to be introduced to the next grade level material and reduce any anxieties. Kahn Academy can help them in countless ways and you can track their progress through the parent dashboard.
Summer should be less scheduled and less hectic than the school year, as our kids do need a break. But going back to the brain/muscle analogy, we should help them be a strong as they can be for the next school year. Try aiming for a couple hours a week that are committed to academics. The dashboard at Kahn makes it easy to commit and keep track of the hours. To get started, go to khahnacademy.org and click “parents” and then add your students. Motivate your kids by explaining to them that their minds need exercise. Each time they struggle, their brains grow stronger by forming new neural connections. And lastly, implement a reward system for progress attained, like eating out at their favorite restaurant or making sundaes at home. Avoid the summer brain drain and help your kids be their best!