Three Easy Ways to Keep Your Child’s Brain Active This Summer

kids readingUnbelievably, even though we thought it would never get here- summer has arrived! Well, maybe not on the calendar yet, but for most people summer unofficially starts on Memorial Day Weekend and/or when the kids get out of school.

It feels amazing to have summer stretching ahead with all those blank pages just waiting to be filled. Everyone in your family, from the eldest to the youngest, is probably ready for a change of pace and the lazy days of summer.

It’s really important for all of us to embrace the slower pace and give in to the need to relax and play- then to get up the next day and do it all over again. But somewhere in all that relaxation and play it’s also important to be sure to give your kids a chance to retain the knowledge they just finished this school year with and even a chance to grow in learning new things.

Exercising the brain while playing is a great way for your family to achieve a nice balance this summer. Not quite sure how to accomplish this? Don’t worry- I’ve put together three quick tips for helping your child avoid Brain Drain this summer while at the same time enjoying the season to the max.

1) ABC Rocks. Here’s an easy activity your child can complete in a very short amount of time and the good news is it can be brought out often to keep your child’s spelling skills sharp all summer.
• Begin by collecting a bag of small pebbles. Aim for at least 40-50 pebbles free of dirt & mud.
• Using various colors of paint (I used acrylic for durability and ease of clean up), paint each of the pebbles and set aside to dry.
• With a black permanent marker have your child write one letter of the alphabet on each rock. Use the extra rocks to make extra vowels and other commonly used letters so your child can form a variety of words.
• If you wish to make the pebbles even more durable spray with a clear finish.

Now your kids can have a fun time choosing pebbles and spelling out words. They’ll be having so much fun they won’t even know they are learning!

2) Libraries all across the country have summer reading programs where you can get your kids signed up for some fun reading activities that last all summer. And if your child doesn’t have a library card, be sure to get one for them. The process of choosing new books to check out each week is a fun way to keep kids engaged. Once the kids and the books are home you can help encourage reading by creating an outdoor reading hideaway. This is a fairly simple project and will let your child have a special place to get lost in a good book.
• Begin by sorting through the linen closet for three old, flat sheets.
• Next rummage around the toy room and pull out an old hula hoop.
• Fold the top of the first sheet over the hula hoop rim and pin into place every 4”- 5” so it hangs like a curtain.
• Repeat this process with the other two sheets.
• Using three short lengths of rope, tie one section of rope to the hula hoop in each of the spaces between the sheets.
• Now gather these three ropes together and tie them in a sturdy knot.
• Next hoist the hideaway into place, hanging it from a tree branch or a porch beam.
Your final step is to place a comfy pillow inside and your child will have a nice shady reading nook to enjoy all summer long.

3) Help your child be a Math Wizard by turning every day activities into learning opportunities. The grocery store offers a multitude of ways for kids to exercise their math muscles. For instance:
• The sale says two boxes of crackers for $1. Have your child figure out how much 1 box costs.
• Or let your child count the change that tumbles into the tray after you pay.
• Have your child bag 5 apples, 4 oranges & 4 bananas and tally how many pieces of fruit you are buying.
• Let your child add up the total of all your discount coupons.
• Ask your child to count how many shopping carts with groceries in them they see during your shopping trip.
The key here is to fine-tune the tasks to meet your child’s capabilities and to make the whole shopping/learning process fun. There are many ways that math can be woven into home activities as well. It’s important to be on the lookout for ways to help sharpen those math skills this summer.

So there you have a quick summary of ways you can help keep your child from feeling overwhelmed with having to relearn forgotten material the first few weeks of school next fall. Practice making learning fun and practice it often this summer. Your child will be the winner in the long-run.

In closing, I encourage you to make the most of your time with your child this summer. Don’t forget those two important words: relaxation and play! Have a great week with your little ones.

Cathie

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