Five Simple Tactics to Sharpen Your Skills this Summer

This post is brought to you by BASIS Charter Schools.

Summertime…and the living is (supposed to be) easy!

Your brain works hard all year. The long summer break is usually a welcome reprieve, but it can also prove to be challenging for students to stay sharp on skills and concepts they’ve tackled throughout the year. Sometimes referred to as the “summer slide,” the lapse in formal education historically leads to the loss of reading, writing, and learning abilities. This past year, far more than others, students experienced a great lag in learning. Now, for many, staying sharp this summer is less of an issue than sharpening up to get on track for the next school year.

Of course, sharpening up doesn’t need to be terribly taxing—it is, after all, summer. Let’s look at some simple ways to get your brain flexing while keeping it fun.


1. Hone your academic skills.

Critical thinking and creativity are the primary ingredients for innovation. Brain teasers,
memorization, focus, and problem-solving exercises can help keep your brain sharp as a
tack this summer.

Most importantly, keep reading and writing. Language skills are among the first to slide
over the summer. But reading and writing, even for pleasure, keep your literacy levels
on par. Check out K–12 summer reading programs at your school, library, or local
community organizations, or join an online program like Scholastic’s Summer Read-a-Palooza.

Do a bit of academic reading, too. Choose topics that interest you, then dive deep into Google Scholar or another academic journal database and brush up on your research
skills. Younger students can read and visualize, then draw and discuss their ideas to
evoke connection and inspire critical thinking. Develop and refine your writing skills by keeping in touch with others. Send letters (via snail or e-mail) to your grandmother, an old friend, or a classmate. Try to write and send a letter each week of summer break. Everybody loves to get mail!

2. Polish your presentation.

Some people fear public speaking more than they fear death. Finding a “safe place” to
practice presenting can make this frightening feat much easier and boost your confidence. You can turn almost any situation into an opportunity to present yourself. Your confidence will build through exposure and practice, and the best part is, you can even practice with your buddies for no-pressure rehearsals anytime.

3. Practice mindfulness—aah yes, mindfulness.

Peace, calm, and serenity make life easier. Look around your world—your immediate
world—mindfully. Real-life academic applications are all around you. Principles in math,
literacy, humanities, physical and social sciences, languages, art, and most anything you
study in the classroom, can be found in your day-to-day life as well.

All of life is filled with practical applications of your education, no matter the field of
study. Pay attention and be rewarded.

4. Connect to your world.

Drawing connections between your curriculum and the real world promotes mastery of
academic material and concepts.

Connect to the world around you. That means connecting with other people, local and
global, to seek out groups that you are comfortable in and share common interests with.
Learn from each other and foster your collaborative skills. Collaboration is key, and it is vital to your future studies and career and will allow you to take on bigger issues.

Meet up with friends online this summer to play and create video games like Minecraft
or Roblox. These kid-friendly games, puzzles, and activities encourage healthy digital
interaction and collaboration and can even teach some coding skills.

One of the many online resources is Wide Open School, where you’ll find online learning games for preschool through grade 12 and many more resources to build skills in Reading and Writing, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

5. Stay fit (in mind and body).

Peak mental performance requires physical fitness. Physical fitness requires
nourishment—which means good food. What you put into your body determines, in
large part, how you feel. And heed the wise words of Virginia Woolf, “One cannot
think well, love well, or sleep well if one has not dined well.”

The Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, famously advised us to “Let food be thy medicine,
and let medicine be thy food,” reminding and warning us that if your body isn’t
nourished by nutritious foods as your medicine, you’ll end up eating medicine like it is
food. Thomas Edison predicted that “The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.”

Brain health, like that of all organs, relies on receiving specific nutrition that the brain
needs in order to keep it functioning optimally, just like every other cell in the body.

You’ve had a long journey this school year, but your brain does not need a vacation. Your brain gets stronger, and life becomes more manageable, as you take on more challenges, not fewer. Therefore, find ways (both literally & figuratively) to feed your mind this summer!

BASIS Charter Schools offer world-class, tuition-free education set to the highest international standards. Our primary program sets students up to succeed by building strong foundations in liberal arts and STEM, emphasizing organizational strategies, and providing comprehensive support with two teachers in each classroom. BASIS Charter School teachers are experts who inspire a lifetime love for learning.