Tips for Keeping Your Kids Mentally Sharp This Summer

Schools out for summer and many parents are already worried about next fall. No matter what your child’s age and ability, every student needs a little mental activity to help with the dreaded summer brain drain. Here are some low-stress tips to keep your child’s brain active so that they can be ready to go when the bells ring for class in the fall.
1. Encourage your child to keep a diary. Today, blogging and online journals have become all the rage. But encourage your child to write down his or her day’s activities in a small journal. Make a production of it by going to the book store and picking out a nice writing journal that they can keep by their bedside. Recording what happens during their day will help sharpen their writing skills and, especially for younger children, their handwriting. It will also be a great memento of the summer that they can look back on and read years later.
2. Let them play video games. Not those horrible shoot-‘em-ups which turn them into passive zombies with super-advanced thumbs. Let them play educational games that can be easily found online, particularly to help keep math skills up for the fall.
3. Get your kids hooked on puzzles and brainteasers. Many bookstores have a variety of puzzle books and brainteasers which can help keep your child’s mind sharp as a tack. Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and seek and finds are all available at various levels for different ages. With a little guidance, your child can find the type that he or she likes and spend just a few minutes each day with a little logic. Also, jigsaw puzzles are a great way to help children with shapes and spatial reasoning. Don’t discount some of these old-school favorites.
4. Take them out to a ballgame. When you think summer, many people think of baseball. Noted educator Rafe Esquith has praised baseball for its fairness, democratic nature, and overall American values. So take your child to a ballpark, even if it is just a minor league or little league game. Explain the rules to them. Teach them how to keep score. Ask them to figure out what the score would be if a batter hits a homerun with two people on base. These type of simple word problems are daily uses of math that show kids that numbers don’t have to be scary.
5. Listen to a good book. Are you worried that your child isn’t reading enough? Look into audio books as a good alternative then. Books on CD are widely available at your local library and many online services have mp3 versions of children’s books available for download. If you are on a road trip or have a long commute, let them listen along to the book as a way of promoting the general reading experience.
There are many more activities that you can do with your child to help keep them mentally active and involved this summer. The key is to stay involved yourself by finding something you can do together and pulling learning experiences out of these activities.