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Six tips for keeping your kids’ brains free of summer cobwebs

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SummerSoccer

“School’s out for summer!” As a kid, this four-letter phrase was music to my ears and signaled the start of the greatest time of year. It’s probably safe to say the same goes for your kids. I mean, what’s better than three carefree months to kick back, forget homework and just be a kid?

But just because there are no teachers or lesson plans doesn’t mean learning should be put on hold. Studies show that on average, a student loses at least a month of grade level equivalency over summer break.

Fortunately, there are plenty of fun (yes, FUN!) activities that will help keep your children’s brain moving all summer long. Here are some ideas to get you started:

#1 Get Out of the House
Whether it’s your yard, the park or deep in the forest, there are so many things to stimulate their senses and brain. Set up activities that will challenge your kids to explore and analyze the world around them. Try a nature scavenger hunt – create a list of some common and harder to find animals, leaves, plants, etc. When all of the items have been spotted or collected, spend some time talking about and researching each item.

#2 Crack Open a Book or Two
Make regular visits to your local library, and get your children involved in summer reading programs. You may even want to set up your own family reading competition (perhaps with the allure of fabulous prizes).

ReadaBook

#3 Turn the Mundane into Food for the Brain
Even routine activities can be a valuable learning opportunity. For instance, a grocery store trip can be a math lesson. If you’re a bargain shopper, let your children help you calculate which item is the better deal. Back at home, ask your kids to help with reading recipes and measuring ingredients. This is a great way to keep analytical abilities sharp.

#4 Plan a Close to Home Adventure
There are so many opportunities to expand your children’s’ minds, right in your own community. Visit your local museum, nature preserve or art exhibit. Talk to the guides, read the informational signs and encourage your kids to ask questions. Keep an eye out for special exhibits and free admission days.

 #5 It Still Can be Fun and Games
If your children are into video games, be sure to incorporate educational games into their collection. There are also plenty of free tablet/smartphone apps out there that will keep the learning and the fun coming. If you want them to break away from the screen, good old-fashioned jigsaw puzzles are especially effective at stimulating many parts of the brain.

 #6 Make Money Count
And of course, one of our favorite activities to talk about is saving money! Teaching kids how to manage finances instills responsibility and helps maintain computational skills. There are many ways to go about this, such as tying allowances to household chores, helping your children set up their very own savings accounts, or using multi-compartment piggy banks to budget the amount they save, spend and share with others.

 Go For It!
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Your kids may complain a little that they can’t sleep in and watch TV all day, but they may just thank you in the future when they’re crossing the stage to pick up their college degrees.

Written by Lucas Minor

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