Q:How do I keep my young child’s mind active during the summer?
A:Now that summer is upon us, parents are wondering how to keep their child’s mind active. Weeks of being outside the classroom can have detrimental effects on children’s cognitive development if their minds are not actively engaged. In addition, without mental stimulation throughout the summer the first few weeks of school can be quite challenging for children to adjust to because of the summer slump. By making learning a fun experience, children will be more excited to continue to learn all year round. Here are a few tips to help your child ease back into a regular school schedule.
Read.One of the best things you can do is encourage children to read. If they cannot yet read on their own, read with them. This will help increase their vocabulary and reading skills. With practice, they will soon be able to read on their own.
your child interested in reading throughout the summer you can offer reading incentives. For example, create a reading chart and place a sticker on the chart for every book read. After a certain number of stickers have been earned, your child receives a prize or a special fun activity.
Utilize your local library.Libraries offer a huge selection of age appropriate books for free. Make it a weekly activity where your child can pick out what books he or she wants to read for the week. Schlow has a summer reading program called “Dream Big READ!”
Cook with them.Cooking can be a fun and educational process for children. It incorporates several skills such as math, measurement and following directions, all of which are skills they will be expected to have in the classroom.
Do science.Science concepts and experiments can be done from home and can help children learn through fun activities. Take advantage of the warm weather to introduce children to nature. For example, help them plant their own garden and have an ongoing experiment as to what will happen when the plant grows, what it needs to grow and more. You can teach them about plants and nature while keeping them engaged in this experiment.
Play games.Traditional board games and puzzles are another fun way children can learn about rules, turn taking and teamwork. These will help prepare children for following rules at school and promote their social development.
These are just a few ways you can keep your child mentally stimulated throughout the summer. There are hundreds of other ways you can keep them engaged. It does not matter what they are doing, as long as they are being active and having fun. Remember to limit TV because watching more than two hours per day can increase the summer slump and make the adjustment back to school more of a challenge.
Emily Devivo is a human development and family studies major interning at Smart Start-Centre County. For the Children is a monthly column in which Smart Start- Centre County volunteers answer parent questions. To submit a question, write to Smart Start-Centre County Executive Director Eileen Wise at firstname.lastname@example.org.