Our Family’s Version of Summer Brain Drain

Have you heard of “summer brain drain?”  

It’s a catch-all phrase representing the lack of learning that happens during summer vacation.  The time when children aren’t actively engaged, aren’t learning, aren’t practicing what they’ve already learned, and aren’t reading.

I’m proud to say it’s not an issue in our house.  

And don’t think that means I’m bragging. 

And please don’t think that means I have my eleven-year-old son sitting down, completing worksheets and practice books. 

Because I don’t.

It’s just that in our house, there is always some sort of learning or practicing going on.  My son is, thankfully, an enthusiastic reader.

I like to think it’s because my husband and I read Goodnight Moon to him each night as soon as I found out I was pregnant.  I like to think it’s because my son is growing up knowing books are valuable and special and important.  Ryan receives a book on each birthday, at the start of each school year, and scattered throughout the year for different occasions and holidays.

The hard part for us is tracking his summer reading time.  Ryan is participating in the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program which requires him to document eight books he’s read.  No problem.

The summer reading program through the public library is a different matter.  That one requires Ryan to track the number of hours he reads.  And that’s the tricky part for us.  I can easily count the minutes we read at bedtime each night.  (This week, it’s a family-favorite:  Because of Winn-Dixie.) 

But it’s because reading is such an integrated part of our family that it’s all the other moments that are harder to keep track of.  

I came downstairs the other day to find Ryan quietly sitting on the couch, reading CD liner notes.  A few days ago, we browsed in our local book store, picking up random books, reading the back covers and the first few pages of books that caught our interest.  Sunday mornings, Ryan scans the sports page looking for news about his favorite basketball team.  

It all counts as reading.  It’s just hard to count.

In an effort not to drain my brain this summer, we’ll just make an estimate.

 

 

 

Summer Reading

A photo taken a few months ago showing Ryan and I browsing at the library.

We’re coming to the end of summer break.  In our family that means school resumes next week, as does afternoon homework and a note packed into my son’s lunchbox each day.

Our summers usually consist of:  one family trip (we were in Santa Barbara and Cambria this year); numerous museum visits (including LACMA, the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, the Natural History Museum, the California Science Center, the Norton Simon Museum, the Getty Center, and the Skirball Cultural Center); and lots of reading.

My ten-year-old son just completed the reading log required for the public library’s summer reading program.  We never tell Ryan what to read, or insist he sit down and read each day.  He just reads.  Sometimes alone, sometimes together — on our patio, on our couch, at our local Coffee Bean.

And looking over his list of books makes me smile.  Ryan read about LeBron James and King Tut.  He read joke books and books based on Pixar films.  He read about Katherine Johnson and Buzz Aldrin.  He read about Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.  He read about Nintendo’s Mario and Curious George.

It’s been a good summer.

All Reading Is Good Reading

Fourth grade classroom, 2010. The carpet hadn’t yet arrived.

 

When I taught, I always made sure to have a “cozy” library corner — pillows, stuffed animals, and hundreds of books.  Because I’m a firm believer that all reading, however it’s done, is beneficial.

I have always loved to read (you can find me on Goodreads, by the way), and I’m proud to say that my son, Ryan, also loves to read.

You can click here to read one of my latest personal essays “All Reading Is Good Reading – Even Comic Books” on MomsLA.com.