Kick-start your brain |

Kick-start your brain

What happens when students turn their brains to “off” over the summer? An article published June 30 on discusses the ramifications involved.

The belief that if school is out, brains deserve a break from education exists. Young people say “I can’t think. My brain doesn’t work in the summer.” It’s imperative you eliminate this mantra. The brain thrives when it challenges itself, just as the body strengthens when it exercises.

Teachers wind up spending up to two weeks reviewing pertinent information learned the prior year when schools reopen in September. The opportunities for academic continuity and success increase when students continue to work their brain throughout summer vacation.

Students of elementary school age are primary targets of such situations, specifically in reading. Most students learn their reading skills in primary grades. No Child Left Behind wants all students reading by third grade. When a skill is first learned, it requires practice for maintenance and improvement. Students who are just beginning their careers as readers need continuity. The more they read, the easier it becomes. Their skills improve. This creates a smoother transition back to school after the long and currently hot days of summer.

Some students think reading is a punishment, especially if they dislike like books and magazines. More often than not, this reasoning goes hand-in-hand with the fact that reading is difficult for these thinkers. Therefore, such learners opt not to read, and sometimes downright refuse to partake in the activity.

The importance of elementary reading involves maintaining skills of comprehension and fluency. When reading with our young learners, ask questions about content, sequence of actions, and character development. Read aloud together, and reread sections for improvement in fluency.

Developing good habits by setting aside time specifically for reading allows continuity of learning. Make reading an “activity” just as we do for swimming or hiking. Part of this leisure time includes making a list of interesting books to read, forming a book club, and weekly trips to local libraries and bookstores.

Reading allows the experience of worlds and cultures through a journey with imagination. The words on a page often transform themselves into a motion picture within our minds. Remember, the book is always better than the movie.

Vicki Isacowitz is a secondary English teacher who has been educating students since 1996. She is co-founder of Clever Minds Educational Services, providing tutoring for students in grades kindergarten-12. For information call 582-1707 or e-mail

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