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Avoid Brain Drain: Keep Your Kids Active This Summer

Summertime and school breaks are meant for sleeping in, hanging out with friends and recharging batteries. But a summer off from school can also result in a tough time for some kids when they return to the classroom. Studies show that children lose as much as two to three months of math and reading skills over the summer. The solution? Keep your kids active and engaged to prevent that summer slide. Below are a few tips to get you started.

Use technology

Many kids never pick up a book for fun. But studies show that kids who read for pleasure have better vocabulary, are more creative writers and are better test takers. If your child likes to play on your laptop or phone, try downloading eBooks from your library to an eReader app on your device. Audiobooks, which are read aloud by professional narrators, are a great way to bring stories alive for kids on car trips or in doctors’ waiting rooms. Interactive book apps are a cross between an eBook and a game. You get the full text of a book, plus interactive elements that let kids make choices in a story, hear music or narration.

Head to the library

Libraries offer a treasure trove of activities to keep kids engaged and learning over the summer. Some offer summer reading programs with prizes for reading a certain number of books. Others offer special programs with entertainment, magicians, musicians and games to help kids have fun while they are using their brains.

Find a cool camp

A new generation of sophisticated camps for young ones offer innovative themes like robotics, video game development, learning a new language or skills like gymnastics, swimming or baseball. Creative types can find camps that specialize in cake decorating, photography, writing and art. Find camp offerings at local schools, community colleges, universities and businesses.

Connect math to everyday life

Make your everyday routine a math challenge by highlighting how math is used throughout the day. Bake a cake and have your child measure the ingredients. Build a bookcase and see how measuring the pieces helps you create the finished product. When you go to the grocery store, challenge your child to find the best prices on the things you buy, and add up items to stay within budget.

Start a club

Have your child start a club with his or her friends. If he or she hangs out with kids nearby, they can start a neighborhood newspaper or website with local community news and photographs. With a book club, they can read favorite authors or books, talk about what they liked and didn’t like and do a book-related activity. If they read a book about animals, for example, it can lead to a trip to the zoo. Kids interested in cooking or who have an artistic flair can decorate cookies or try different recipes in a baking club.

Build things

Head to the craft store and stock up on supplies to keep idle hands busy all summer. You’ll find complete kits to build model airplanes, tiny race cars, decorative flags, even tote bags and purses. You’ll also find plenty of supplies for candy making, scrapbooking, fabric painting and small woodcrafts, among others.

Be creative

Look for ways to engage your child, even if you’re hanging out at home. Set up a scavenger hunt to search for items around the house. Buy a globe and have your child close his eyes and point to a place – then look up a fun fact about that place together. If you’re planning a vacation, count how many hours or miles it will take to get there, how many meals you will eat, etc. Play board games, card games, chess, checkers or other games that help kids count, do simple math problems and think.

The lazy days of summer don’t have to result in a brain drain. Find fun activities to stimulate your child’s brain and have some fun.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.