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How You Can Really Boost Your Kid’s Brain Power This Summer

Just because your child is on summer vacation doesn't mean they need to take a break from learning. While most kids would be happy to spend their days sleeping in and lazing around this summer, it's important that you keep your kids stimulated and learning so they don't lose some of the knowledge they gained during the previous school year. The dreaded summer slide happens to many kids when they don't engage in brain-boosting activities over the summer, resulting in the loss of reading and other academic skills. Studies show that older students are more affected by the summer slide than younger ones, so it's more important than ever to keep your kids engaged over the summer months, even if they don't realize they are.

Engaging kids over summer vacation doesn't have to be tedious or boring and there are actually a lot of great ways you can help boost your kid's brain power over the summer so not only are they retaining all they've learned in the previous school year, but they're a step ahead when the new school year begins. Kids of all ages can engage in a variety of different activities that feel more like fun and adventure and less like school to keep them learning all summer long.

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Reading

Parents know that instilling a love of reading in their children from a young age is beneficial not only in helping them develop their vocabulary and reading comprehension skills but also in helping to foster their sense of imagination and creativity. Many schools will assign reading logs for kids to help them track what they read over the summer break while other schools will make suggestions of how many books to read. It's important kids read over the summer vacation to keep their minds active but it's not always too important what they're reading.

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If you want your child to truly love to read take them to the local library or book store and let them pick out a few books that they are really interested in, regardless if they're on the school's recommended reading list or not. Letting children read what they like — whether it's a comic book, graphic novel or fiction book — is crucial if you want children to want to read over the summer break. Depending on the age of your child you could even create a family book club where everyone reads the same book and discusses it at the end.

Many local libraries will also have a variety of free or low-cost programs that run over the summer, ideal for children of all ages that not only foster their love of reading but will also show them to that a library is a place where fun and learning can happen. Christine French Cully, the editor-in-chief of Highlights, says that “studies show that reading as few as 4 or 5 books over the summer can have a positive impact similar to that of summer-school enrollment.”

Book Suggestions:

The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble (Series) by Frank Cammuso

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Games!

There are lots of things kids can do over their summer break to help boost brain power without them even realizing it! Board games are not only fun for kids but they also teach them how to strategize as well as how to work with others. Communication is a key part of playing games with others as is learning how to win, and lose, with grace.

Puzzles are also a fun and educational thing for kids to do over their break that helps boost their brain power. Not only do they stimulate the brain but many games can teach your child new words while doing puzzles like Sudoku can help them use their math skills without them even realizing it.

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For younger children, games that help to increase their memory skills like Concentration or Memory are fun and educational, and keep them excited to learn over the summer. Integrated Learning Strategies even suggests playing Ping Pong as a fun summer game for children of all ages. Not only is it fun but it also helps your child develop their motor skills while working on their coordination and balance, which ILS says helps the right and left sides of the brain work together. "It’s the perfect combination for breaking a physical sweat as well as a mental sweat."

Game Suggestions:

Sudoku for Teens: 200 Puzzles

Hit The Kitchen

Did you know that cooking or baking with your child can help boost their brain power? Reading a recipe and following it to create something in the kitchen is an ideal way for kids to practice a variety of skills from reading to math. With younger children, it's fun to gather in the kitchen together to create something fun, while with older children giving them the task of creating a dinner or dessert on their own can be an exciting challenge.

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Cooking or baking requires many different skills, beginning with decision-making skills to choose the recipe perfect recipe. It requires them to accurately read all the directions as they precisely measure out the ingredients and set the oven to the proper temperature. Challenging them to double a recipe on a batch of cookies or something similar will also make them practice their math skills as work out fractions and calculate the proper cooking time. Kids won't even realize how much they're using their brain when they're in the kitchen and you will get the added bonus of help in the kitchen.

Swimming

Did you know that swimming isn't just a great physical workout but it can also be beneficial for children who have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, or depression? ILS states that swimming helps stretch muscles and create rhythmic breathing patterns while the actual physical action of swimming "allows the body to perform motor operations and cross-patterning movements that are different from walking and running. The body and muscle confusion that comes with swimming teaches the brain to receive messages that make it think."

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Swimming is the perfect time to register your kids for swimming lessons or perhaps even enroll them on a local swim team. Lots of pool clubs have their own teams that range from recreational to competitive so if your child really loves being in the water it may be beneficial to check it out.

Travel

Many families take the opportunity to travel during summer vacation, whether it be day trips or a longer trek somewhere far away. Travel is the perfect opportunity to allow your kids to boost their brains over the summer without them even realizing they're doing it. “Even a day trip can be enriching for children,” says Christine French Cully, “Let your kids participate in the planning—researching your destination and planning your route. It’s a chance to learn map skills—and practice their math skills—as they calculate distance traveled. While in the car, tune in an educational children’s podcast the whole family can enjoy, like Highlights Hangout.”

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There are a variety of day trips you can take with your kids that are sure to boost their brainpower. Take a trip to the zoo or a local museum or local historical areas and make it fun! Ask your kids what they most want to see or learn about and make sure you add in other activities, like lunch out or grabbing an ice cream, to keep them engaged and entertained. Even creating a scavenger hunt while doing local day trips can turn an ordinary day into an adventure the whole family can participate in.

Have Fun

Children look forward to summer vacation because like the rest of us, they want and need a break from the daily routine of school and all that goes with it like homework and tests and assignments. While it's incredibly important for children to continue to learn and work their brains over the summer break, it's also important they have fun doing it and that may mean a bit of extra work for parents, and loosening the reigns a bit.

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Let children of all ages actively participate in their summer vacations by letting them choose the activities they're interested in. Ask them for their own suggestions for fun day trips and work together to make it educational. Encourage them to read anything they like, and get them familiar with the local library. Sing with younger children to help stimulate their vocabulary and memory. Encourage your kids to be physically active because being fit and healthy physically also helps to be fit and healthy mentally.

Summer is a time to have fun and relax but it's also a time to ensure that all the work your child has done during the previous school year isn't forgotten by the time they return to school. Keeping children mentally and physically active during the summer will definitely help them avoid the dreaded summer slide.

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