Summertime is in full swing, friends! I don’t know about you, but this gal is super excited about it. Even though my husband works 12 months as the principal of his school, and I still work part-time during the summer, the atmosphere in our house is much more relaxed now that school is out.
This time of year is obviously a lot of fun for the entire family. Temperatures are rising, kiddos are swimming, cucumbers are sprouting, and vacations are happening. We have two big trips planned in July and a couple of regional trips planned. I’ve got a list of books to read and a fun Summer Bucket List to achieve.
When I was teaching full-time, I could clearly tell which of my students had maintained some academic activity during the summer months and those who had not. As parents, there are several things we can do to resist summer brain drain during the dog days of summer.
1). Maintain routine: Though the family schedule is bound to change during this time of year, try to maintain a regular routine as much as humanly possible. Routine during the week and appropriate bedtimes are particularly important. I recently read that our brains actually wash themselves of toxins during sleep, so sleep is vitally important for everyone, especially children.
2). Keep reading: Visit the public library and utilize summer reading lists. If your child’s school did not provide a summer reading list, most public libraries have one. Scholastic has a Summer Reading Challenge going on which your children would really enjoy.
3). Embrace teachable moments: Literature, math, science, and social studies are all around us. Visit museums/memorials/historical sites, read the paper with your children, let them help you calculate the family budget, watch independent films, go to a play, collect and study bugs, count tomatoes, etc. The options are endless. There are numerous educational and hands-on learning activities available during the summer months, so as you travel and spend time with your children, always be on the lookout for them.
4). Limit technology: Don’t rely on technology to “baby-sit” children during their break from school. Though teachers aim to incorporate technology into their instructional strategies, children are not on personal social media sites or otherwise perusing the internet during school hours. Make sure your children are still reading, doing puzzles, socializing (with actual people), playing with Legos, etc. during their summer vacation. This will make the transition back to school in the fall much easier.
5). Exercise: Ensure that your family is moving. Most children either have recess or PE during the school day. Numerous others play sports and even walk relatively long distances each day navigating large campuses. During summer break, make sure children are continuing to exercise as physical activity significantly impacts cognitive activity. Research has shown that children who exercise regularly perform better on cognitive tasks.
Whatever you do, be sure to keep those budding brains active. Make it fun and keep it interesting. Children and adolescents do deserve a break from school but not at the expense of erasing any of that knowledge gained last school year. Happy summer!