Please welcome Amy Webb, who is not only a wife, mother and Ph D in Human Development and Family Sciences, but also the author of a highly informative blog, The Thoughtful Parent. Amy has the gift of translating scientific research into understandable and usable information for parents.
by Amy Webb
With the school year winding down and summer just around the corner, many kids may think it’s time to turn off their brain. Parents, you know that there is a certain amount of “brain drain” that tends to happen during the summer when kids are not in school everyday. To help prevent this, summer is a great time to focus on learning skills and knowledge “outside the box” of the usual worksheets and homework. We all know that lifelong learning is important for everyone, even adults. Much research has shown the importance of continuing to challenge your brain and learn new skills as a way to build new neural connections and keep your brain healthy and vibrant.
Here are a few ideas for fun and educational activities to do with your kids this summer:
- Nature can be one of the best classrooms. Camping, hiking, and bird watching are all educational and fun for kids of many ages. There are beautiful state and national parks all across the country and admission is usually very reasonable. Geocaching is another great activity for older kids. It combines technology with treasure hunting.
- Most local libraries have wonderful summer reading programs for kids. Many programs include guest speakers, crafts, or competitions for reading the most books.
- Let’s be realistic; most kids will watch some TV during the summer. If you let your kids watch TV try to find an educational activity that coincides with it. For example, watch Finding Nemo and then go visit an aquarium or watch Night at the Museum and then go visit your local history museum.
- Visit a farm or farmer’s market and discuss where vegetables and meats are raised. Since most kids live in urban areas, many are not exposed to farms or gardens on a regular basis. It’s a great learning experience to understand that food does not originally come from the grocery store.
- If kids say they’re bored, challenge them to invent a new game or use an old game in a new way. Encourage them to create new rules for an old board game or card game.
- Encourage kids to learn a new skill during summer. I fondly remember learning to cook in grandma’s kitchen during the summer. Help them learn a musical instrument, learn to garden, or learn to build something. Many home improvement stores or nurseries offer kids’ programs that teach these skills.
- Help your kids learn about entrepreneurship. Of course, the classic lemonade stand is always a summer favorite but there are other ways as well. Older kids can help you or a neighbor organize and run a garage sale. Many times charity organizations need help with garage sales or auctions.
Take advantage of all the time available to kids during the summer and create a summer that rocks!