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Summertime: Engaging your child’s brain!

May 16, 2015

With summer quickly approaching many parents are either searching for places to send their children because school is out and they still have to work, or parents are searching for things to do with their children because they are get to have some time off during the summer months. Either way, here are some great tips for summertime entertainment (especially here in the Midwest when we get hot weather, sun, and free time once a year).

As an educator, all of the suggestions below are related to how we as parents can keep our children’s brains engaged to reduce (or even prevent) the academic regression that occurs every summer. We don’t want our children to lose what they gained for 10 months, so let’s keep them engaged in their communities around them.

  1. Develop routines/structure– When summer hits, it is easy to fall out of routines. But, child CRAVE routines (knowing what is happening next and how it is happening and for how long… you know the 20 questions..) So, make routines for your summer schedule—and it will be much easier to start back up with school come August. The routines do not have to be the same as during the school year, but schedule your days, your weeks, and your months so that children have a sense of structure.
  2. Join the library summer reading program– Many libraries have summer reading programs that end with a nice surprise/event at the end of the summer. Plus this will help keep your child’s brain engaged.
  3. Find camps for your child to attend– Attending camps helps children continue to develop their social skills with peers, but also provides them active and creative ways to learn over the summer. With many school districts cutting the arts (music, art, etc.) summertime is a perfect time to let your child experience their creative side.
  4. Water fun– Get a pass to a local pool, set up plastic in your backyard (homemade slip-n-slide), or have a water gun/balloon fight. Laughing and having fun with your child helps build a stronger relationship and helps your child build a high self-esteem. Plus, you get to act like a kid again!
  5. Set up playdates– This is an easy way to keep your child engaged with kids from school so they don’t lose touch over the summer, and it gives you either sometime to yourself or time socializing with other adults.
  6. Sign up for free bowling– Many bowling alleys link into this fun activity for kids over the summer—plus your children get to have fun and release some energy on rainy summer days.
  7. Free Days!-Find out when the free days are to nearby zoos and museums. This is a great way to keep your child engaged and you may learn a little something also!
  8. Sports- -Sign your child up for sports through the local park district or other agencies in your community. Sports is a great way for your child to learn teamwork, cooperation, and gets them active learning something new. It also helps develop their motor skills and hand-eye (foot) coordination.
  9. Build- Build an obstacle course with your child or a fort or a ramp for their cars or a castle for their dolls—just build. Spatial sense and logically thinking through the construction of objects will continue to keep your child’s brain engaged.

And most importantly…

Limit your child’s screen time– In the summer it is easy to put the kids down in front of the TV for long periods of time but research would advise against that. Professionals advocate for no more than 2 positive hours of screen time per day. Screen time includes iPads, computers, TV, DVDs, game systems, etc.— anytime spent in front of “blue light” (technology).

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