At the beginning of every academic year teachers usually begin by reviewing the skills that students should have mastered the previous year. Early term assessments help teachers understand students’ readiness for what is to come. We all know that summer brain drain is real, with students regressing in terms of their skills and competencies by as much as one third.

More alarming, for some, is that it is not about simply forgetting how to multiply fractions. For many it takes weeks before they have reconditioned themselves into a daily learning routine. But there are some who seem to be immune to this cycle. They begin every academic year ready to learn and with very little loss of skills. What do these students have in common?

Usually, they spent the summer engaged in activities that support academic achievements. There is no shortage of programs, both online and offline, that are designed to either help keep students engaged during the summer break or to address those subject areas that they have struggled with during the year. Unfortunately, many of these programs can be cost prohibitive, particularly for large families.

So how can you ready your child, or children, for the next academic year without destroying their summer and not having to break the piggy-bank? As with any endeavour, you need a plan.

When organising activities I recommend continuing with a Monday to Friday schedule. Don’t monopolise the whole day with “enrichment” activities. However, ensure that each day has something on the agenda that is stimulating. Consider dividing activities into three categories; constructive play, exploration, and academic supplements.

Constructive play is just what it sounds like, fun activities. This can be anything from trips to museums to shows in the park. These all offer opportunities to engage the learning process without being too staid.

The summer months can be used to explore a passion; that one thing that you really enjoy, and are probably good at, but does not always fit into developing a stellar academia portfolio. For me it was reading comics and reproducing — drawing — action scenes of Thor, Black Panther or Iron Man.

Finally, academic supplements refer to “school work” that helps to fill in the gaps in knowledge or skills. The aim here is to endeavour not to fall any further behind. Ideally spend about thirty minutes a day working on these skills. It does not seem like a lot, but a little each day is easier to sustain while being beneficial.

Another good idea is to create a summer challenge; for those who readily get lost in books, download a reading list and see how many you can get through; for the more mechanical minded, why not build a robot; budding musicians and artists, simply write your own composition and create your own work of art; if sports is your thing, get fitter, faster, stronger.

Finally, how ever you choose to spend your up and coming summer break, enjoy.

Dr Ambroz Neil

Alexander Partners