Inquiring Minds: How To Keep Kids Sharp In The Summer Months

Do your kids hear the words “summer vacation” and automatically think “mental shut-down?” Not only does regular participation in academic and social programs have a positive influence on a child’s mental development, but it can give their self-esteem a major boost, too. Read on for tips from the NEA that will keep your kids from vegetating in front of the TV while school’s out.

Reach Out
Don’t hesitate to ask your child’s teacher for help planning summer activities. “Parents and teachers must create a partnership and work as a team when it comes to the education of a child,” says an NEA spokesperson. Many teachers provide students with materials and assignments to work on during their vacation. If nothing was assigned, ask for suggestions that will give your child a leg up come fall. Then check with your local library for summer program schedules.

Field Trips
During family vacations, ask younger children to identify simple shapes and colors in ordinary objects. They can also describe what they see when visiting new places to encourage language use and inspire creativity. Meanwhile, older kids can help plan itineraries, read road maps and calculate distances between stops.

Reading Rainbow
Reading should be a top priority regardless of how old the child is. Create a daily to-do list for your kids that includes reading and then discuss the books at dinner. You can even incorporate reading into scheduled TV time by turning the sound off and the closed captioning on. Want to give them another inclination to pick up a book? Read yourself! “If a child sees their parents reading a book, they may view reading as an enjoyable escape instead of a chore,” the spokesperson says.
Also check out the International Reading Association; not only do they provide reading lists, but children can review their favorite books.

Busy Bees
For parents with hectic schedules community calendars can be a valuable resource. Look for activities being held at the museum, local library or community centers that fit into your agenda. These events are usually free and can make for fun family outings.

For grade-specific activities and parent guides visit the National Education Association.

—Dorkys Ramos