In designing Brain Chase, we took advantage of the surprisingly large collection of research about how to help children stay smart over the summer. One great resource is the book Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning. Its author is Jennifer Sloan Combs, Ph.D., a senior officer at the RAND Corporation. Here are three tips parents can use from her research:
Keep children reading. Reading tops the list for the most important thing that students can do over the summer to stay smart. Brain Chase takes this research seriously. We challenge students to do at least 15 minutes of reading per day using myON’s vast digital library of over 5,000 books, which all students who sign up for Brain Chase will have unlimited access to browse and enjoy throughout the chase. Rather than damper the love of reading by weighing kids down with quizzes and book reports, our approach is to encourage students to explore and fall in love with the joy and emancipation of freely reading.
Keep summer learning fun. It’s important for parents to convey that summer learning is fun, says Combs in this CafeMom interview about her research. Combs suggests that parents find fun ways to incorporate learning into children’s summer activities. This suggestion was the highest priority design principle for us when we developed Brain Chase. We agreed that if every child who signs up has fun doing online learning, experimenting with projects, watching Mae Merriweather webisodes, and searching for buried treasure, summer learning transforms from a grim chore to a genuine pleasure.
Set up a series of learning experiences at home. Combs suggests setting up an “at home camp” with theme weeks, as well as helping kids author books, perform a play, and conduct science experiments. This is great advice, but sometimes poses a challenge for busy parents as the weeks of summer break drag on. Our goal with Brain Chase is to make parents’ job easier by delivering a complete six-week end-to-end summer learning experience. Parents or caregivers will need to be on hand to assist, but Brain Chase does the heavy lifting when it comes to piecing together the right online content, guiding students through their six-week journey, mailing them their hands-on projects, and integrating the entire experience into one fun package.
Thanks Dr. Combs for the excellent advice and for helping us ground the Brain Chase summer adventure in such great research!