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Queens Chronicle

Parents: Put the brakes on kids' summer 'brain drain'

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Posted: Monday, April 14, 2014 1:00 am | Updated: 4:44 am, Wed Jun 25, 2014.

(BPT) - Parents and kids alike sigh with relief at the end of another successful school year. Yet years of studies show that summer “brain drain” is a very real phenomenon, and where kids are intellectually at the end of one school year isn’t always where they are when they begin a new one. Over the summer, the average student loses more than two months of grade-level equivalency in math skills.

Luckily parents have somewhere to turn with the successful implementation of children’s enrichment programs, shifting your summer breaks into learning opportunities.

“Summer is an ideal time for children to build on their math and science skills, instead of losing them, which is known as the ‘summer slide,’” says Michelle Cote, founder and creative director of Bricks 4 Kidz.

Summer camps with an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) allow children to collaborate with their peers, teaching teamwork and organization while enhancing self-esteem and improving fine motor skills.

Parents looking for a way to combat the unfortunate educational losses have been encouraged by the growth of enrichment programs and the pool of talented instructors. Teachers who also have a summer break are flocking to these programs where they are given the freedom to be creative, teaching the way that they have always imagined.

“We all enjoy the summer when we can help our students grow in much more inventive ways, eliciting the visions of our young scientists, engineers and architects through enrichment camps,” says Gracia Merrill, a 12-year education veteran, just two months shy of her master's in education.

Summer months are an excellent time for kids to not only fill learning gaps but also get ahead of the curve for the upcoming year. “The models that the children build spark interest in science and math organically as they investigate ways to change gear ratios - making models go faster (or slower) - forces in motion, engineering concepts and the principles behind them,” says Cote. “It is the ‘hands-on’ learning they miss out on during the school year while gaining STEM based knowledge simply by attending camp.”

Parents looking for a program for their children should look for one that:

* Encourages curiosity, creativity and cognitive development, the ability to think and understand.

* Uses the tools that children relate to, such as LEGO Bricks.

* Offers engaging activities that boost self-esteem.

* Fosters an appreciation for how things work from vision and experimentation to culmination.

“Children have the innate ability to embrace their visions as reality,” says Dan O’Donnell, COO of Creative Learning Corp., the franchise developer of Bricks 4 Kidz. “Our camps provide the atmosphere where gears and motors take simple bricks and turn them into the stuff dreams are made of.”

This summer, students can easily avoid brain drain when they learn while playing. They’ll have so much fun they won’t even realize that the basis of their summer enrichment program has catapulted them beyond these three months, into a new school year full of promise.

To find a Bricks 4 Kidz program in your area, visit the interactive map at www.bricks4kidz.com. You can learn more about their programs and new summer camps by searching for a location by state or zip code.

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