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Activities to Help Your Kids Remain Intellectually Active Over the Summer

Updated on May 20, 2017
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I'm a business communications coach who teaches writing, speaking, and leadership skills to adults in the midst of a career change.

Here are some stimulating activities that can help your kids retain the valuable math, reading, and science skills they learned before school closed for the summer holidays.

Don't let brain drain set in over the summer holidays.

School's out for summer. In two months, will your child still remember what she learned last year when she starts a new school year?
School's out for summer. In two months, will your child still remember what she learned last year when she starts a new school year?

As a parent or guardian, (or even favorite auntie) of a young student, you want your kids to do well in school. You want them to feel competent and capable so that they can advance successfully from one year to the next. But when long holidays and summer breaks roll around, kids don't always retain the things they learned in the previous school year.

Did you know that according to research conducted in both Canada and the United States, school children, on average, lose the equivalent of one month’s worth of classroom learning over the summer holidays? After all the effort your kids put into getting through the school year, and all the time you and your spouse devoted to helping them get their homework done each night, doesn’t it make sense to help them retain as much of that knowledge as possible?

Here are some stimulating activities that can help your kids retain the valuable math, reading, and science skills they learned before school closed for the holidays. These activities not only activate kids’ minds and keep them from suffering the dreaded brain drain, many of these activities also promote a strong work ethic, positive study skills, and all around good citizenship.

Setting up a lemonade stand and then donating the money earned to a local charity not only teaches kids how to run a small business, it teaches them the value of giving back to their community.
Setting up a lemonade stand and then donating the money earned to a local charity not only teaches kids how to run a small business, it teaches them the value of giving back to their community.

Activities for Elementary and Middle School Students

Help your children organize a fundraiser. Host a reading challenge where they pledge to read a certain number of books before the holiday break ends. Have them collect donations from relatives, neighbors, and your friends and co-workers. Help them choose a specific charity that they want to raise money for. Then have them write an essay or short story about why that particular charity deserves the cash pledges they raised.

Keep them in suspense! Promote reading, writing, and creative problem solving skills by encouraging kids to write new endings to their favorite mystery or adventure novels.

Make a family tree. Visit the library. Go down to your community’s archives or scour the internet to help your children create a family tree. Pull out old photos, albums, letters, and records that have been languishing in the closet. Have your kids phone their aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents to interview them about their childhood memories. Get crafty putting the family tree together. It could be in the form of a collage, a video montage, a scrapbook, or even a real tree with handmade ornaments that tell a unique story about each family member. (Don't forget to include beloved pets on the tree, too!)

Giving your kids fun and meaningful activities over the summer that don't feel like homework is a great way to help them retain the previous school year's lessons.
Giving your kids fun and meaningful activities over the summer that don't feel like homework is a great way to help them retain the previous school year's lessons.

Volunteer. Find some kid-friendly volunteer activities that you can do with your child(ren). Kids between the ages of five and twelve may not be ready to take up a volunteer project on their own, but perhaps there are some community-related projects that you can work on with them. Check out your local volunteer resource center, neighborhood house, or recreation center for volunteer activities that help make the world a better place. Events such as charity car washes, park clean-ups and caring for animals in a shelter encourage physical activity. These volunteer jobs also help kids understand how everything is interconnected. Bonus: Volunteering alongside your kids is a great way for you to spend more quality time with them. (They grow up so fast!)

Have kids re-write the lyrics to their favorite songs. If you can’t get your kids to completely unplug from their iTunes and MP3 players, challenge them to re-write the lyrics to their favorite songs.

Write old-fashioned fan mail. When I was a kid, the only way to get in touch with our favorite actors, singers, and rock stars was to write a letter by hand. There was no such thing as Twitter or Facebook Fan Pages to send adoring accolades to our idols. We wrote our letters by hand, filling them with stickers, photos, drawings, poems, and tributes to our superstar heroes. Then we mailed them off and watched the mailbox every day, eagerly awaiting a reply. Why not encourage your kids to write a letter to their favorite actors or pop stars?

When their is a fun outcome attached to the end of a learning task, your kids might not even notice how much they are using the lessons they learned in school last year.
When their is a fun outcome attached to the end of a learning task, your kids might not even notice how much they are using the lessons they learned in school last year.

Roll in the dough. In Canada, we just learned that the copper penny will be phased out within the next few years. Now is a great time to get kids involved in a penny drive. When I was a kid, my father gave me and my brother his massive jar of pennies that he'd been contributing to for over 20 years.The deal was, if we rolled all the pennies and took them to the bank, we could buy a VCR for the family room. (This was 35 years ago when a VCR was a big deal!)

Encourage your kids to learn a new language. Challenge your kids to learn a few words in a new language, especially a language that they won’t be learning next year in school. How about Cantonese? Or American Sign Language? What language did their distant relatives speak? The idea here is not necessarily to become completely fluent in a new language. You simply want to spark their curiosity about other cultures and ways of communicating.

Don't let those nights of helping with homework through the school year go to waste! Keep your kids happy, healthy, and engaged over the summer holidays!

Activities Geared Towards High School Students

These next few summer activities are geared more towards teenage high school students. Not only will these activities help them retain the skills they learn in school last year, they;ll also give them a head start on college admissions applications and future job prospects.

Encourage your child to develop valuable jobs skills. Your local Red Cross, aquatic center, community center or community health organization may have information on courses in first aid, babysitting and life-guarding. If you think your kids are old enough and mature enough to learn critical safety skills, then consider signing them up for these courses. Not only will it help them develop important life-skills, when it comes to assessing summer job applications or college applications, students with extra skills can get a leg up on their peers.

Find out about local internships or practicum opportunities for youth. Has your teenager shown an interest in radio or television broadcasting? Magazine publishing? Politics, democracy and good citizenship? Landing a summer internship with a company or organization in a field related to their goals and aspirations is a great way to utilize skills learned in the previous year.

Encourage your teenager to conquer the number one fear identified by most adults: speaking in front of an audience! Public speaking is one of the most valuable skills anyone can learn. Joining a program such as a Toastmasters Gavel Club, a debate club or a class on how to write and deliver speeches is a great way for young people to boost their confidence, cultivate leadership skills and learn to speak clearly and assertively. Imagine how proud you will be when your child is chosen to give a commencement speech because he or she has shown a keen interest in and aptitude for addressing an audience.

1. Canadian Council on Learning, RAND Corp.

Source

There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.

— Jiddu Krishnamurti

© 2017 Sally Hayes

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  • Karen Hellier profile image

    Karen Hellier 2 months ago from Georgia

    I love that term, "Brain Drain." It is a real thing too. I used to keep my kid's minds active over the summer through having them read books through the library summer reading program and taking them to museums and having them write in a journal about what they learned there. Great hub!

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