The Power of Practice

Posted on: Thu, 06/21/2018 - 09:00

As our students begin summer break, it’s important to keep their brains engaged! And not just because I said so.

student holding a sign that says ReadThe research is clear—students will return to school in the fall at a lower achievement level. On average, students lose about one month’s worth of school-year learning during the summer, according to authors David M. Quinn and Morgan Polikoff in their report Summer Learning Loss: What is it, and what can we do about it?

As a parent and teacher, this research does not surprise me. I can think of several clichés that validate this research: “If you don’t use it, you will lose it” or, quite simply, “practice makes perfect.” Now, perfect may be a stretch, but the value of practice is well documented in sports, music, and academics!

And so, it is vitally important that our students find ways to keep their brains engaged this summer. Parents can find ideas to support reading at www.fcps.org/academics/summer-reading. A visit to the public library can create wonderful opportunities for students to explore many content areas and activities. A visit to the FCPS Earth and Space Science Lab is another fun way to keep young minds engaged. And never underestimate the power of conversation!

My family enjoys jigsaw puzzles and playing games that involve strategy, which can be another way to engage the mind. Creative play will also encourage thinking and curiosity. Of course there are many apps and video games that can be educational as well—just remember to limit time spent online.

And finally, the connection between physical activity and the brain is well documented. So running, walking, biking and swimming can be important for engaged brains, too.

Practice, practice, practice. Every coach and band director will expect this of their participants. I hope every parent will expect this of their child. But more importantly, I hope every student will want to improve and has learned that practice is key! I think the quote below says it all:

“Continuous effort — not strength or intelligence — is the key to unlocking our potential.”
– Liane Cardes

Happy “practice” vacation! See you in September.