Monday, June 8, 2009

Keep Your Minds Sharp This Summer And Still Have Fun

Summertime is a fun time of the year, always full of family vacations, visits to the pool, and barbeques, but the fun-packed season makes it easy to neglect important mental activity, which is crucial for children in order to maintain the school year’s learning. 

According to a recent article appearing in the Miami Herald, research has shown that when there is no academic continuation, children tend to lose an average of 2.6 months of recently learned mathematical knowledge and even one year’s worth of reading skill. 

This potential loss of academic knowledge does not mean that children must hit the text books all summer simply to maintain all the information they learned in the previous year. Author Debbie Mandel notes that learning over the summer needs to be fun as well as educational: “Children need to have fun over the summer and relax because they are overscheduled and face a great deal of academic, social and extracurricular pressure,” she told the Herald.  

So what are some good ways to exercise your child’s mind over the summer without causing unnecessary stress? Researchers suggest a few teaching opportunities that can encourage summer learning in fun and creative ways:

• Teach your child how to bake cookies, while illustrating how to make the proper measurements of ingredients.

• Encourage your child to help plan a family trip - Allow him or her to estimate the mileage of the journey or outline a map of the cities your family might drive through or flying over.

• Allow your child to pick out a fun book to read, in addition to assigned summer readings.

• Your family can visit museums, zoos, aquariums, etc. to learn about history and nature.

• If your child enjoys baseball, encourage him or her to record the statistics of a team. This can include calculating ERA and RBI percentages.

• For younger children, buy beads for them to make a necklace or a key chain with. This activity encourages counting and pattern-making skills.  

You can make the summer fun and interesting for your children, while still helping them keep their minds sharp.  So bake some cookies, plan a trip, visit the zoo, or buy some beads--and have a great time.

Written by: Emma Kate Wright, Matthew Laxer, and Mara Ivey

(Source: The Miami Herald – May 23, 2009 “Combine fun, learning to keep kids’ minds active during summer”)