Beat the summer brain drain with these brain-building activities that kids will want to do. Many kids, if left to their own devices, will simply switch their brains to OFF all summer. They work hard all school year, and they do need some rest, but parents know that a kid who does “nothing” gets bored and restless quickly.
The good news is that it’s not that complicated for parents to help kids keep their minds active all summer and have fun too. In fact, some of the best brain building ideas are really just the basics. It all has to do with how you present them.
Some kids are born readers, staying up late with flashlights under the covers. Others take a lot of encouragement, or maybe even nagging, to get them to pick up a book. So as a parent, if you want to increase the fun factor of reading, you have to meet children where they are.
The kid who has read every science fiction book they can get their hands on may need to be introduced to another genre to keep from getting bored. That child might enjoy starting a book discussion group. However, the child who struggles with decoding the words may need a different kind of encouragement. Perhaps, that child will learn to enjoy the storytelling aspect of books by listening to audiobooks. And even the child who doesn’t know how to read yet will obviously benefit from being read too, but less obviously that child can delve into wordless books on his or her own.
When I say “writing” I’m really thinking more of composing text, rather than handwriting. You can probably sneak in a little handwriting practice during some fun activities. However, for those just learning print or cursive letters, it’s a lot of hard work. So just be mindful that too much struggling with mechanics of writing, during these summer activities can make kids fail to see the fun of writing. And writing most certainly can be fun for kids, especially when they write about the things they love and they get to pick the genre.
- Puzzles and Games
Betcha thought I was gonna say arithmetic! Nope. Though for some kids math is fun, for many others you’ve got to sneak math into an otherwise fun activity. And puzzles and brain-building games can be those activities. Often with these types of activities, recognizing patterns–a key math skill–is inherent in success. Yet, games teach a lot more than just math, though. They teach good sportsmanship, reading, patience, strategy and a lot more.
And brainteaser toys and puzzles keep both kids’ minds and hands busy. For these to be fun, though, kids have to play with an age-appropriate item. Total frustration is no fun! But these kinds of toys are geared toward every age range.
Cooking combines all of the above to one degree or another, plus some physical tasks that involve learning techniques that involve hand-eye coordination. There’s the reading of recipes, browsing the cookbooks, measuring the ingredients, calculating servings, etc., and you can even get in a little writing if you encourage kids to write up a menu for the day or week.
However, the most important thing kids learn when you teach them to cook is the most obvious: how to feed themselves. This is a skill that will not only come in handy when they are grown, but as they are growing. Teens, tweens and elementary school kids should know how to make simple meals for themselves, so parents don’t have to be short-order cooks.