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Stop summer brain drain

Low cost cures for the summertime "I'm bored" blues


Researchers from Harvard to UCLA are showing that exercise is good for the body and the brain and can actually help kids get ready to learn. Studies have also shown that summer reading is particularly important to keep kids reading at or above grade level when they return to school.

So get your kids out reading and running this summer. They’ll be fitter in the fall, without breaking your bank account. And it works for adults, too. Remember those few extra pounds you want to take off and the book you’ve always wanted to read…?

Here are some fun and educational summer activities for parents and children to do together – and on the cheap.

READ MORE: Halt summer boredom!

  • Encourage your child to develop a hobby: photography, rock collecting, computers, or museum exploring.

  • See how many words you and your child can write in five minutes that end in “ing.” Score one point for four-letter words, three points for five-letter and six-letter words.

  • Take a nature walk to enjoy the season. Come home and have your child draw or write about what he/she experienced.

  • Make a list of errands to run. Give the list to your child and let them decide the order in which to run the errands as well as the shortest and fastest way to get around town.

  • Help your child decorate a “summer memory” box made up of items he/she collected that are reminders of fun things and anything learned during the summer.

  • Encourage your child to keep a summer journal.

  • Sit on the front porch. Take turns telling each other stories using things you can see: dogs, people walking, an old tree. Use five-minute limits and make sure the story has a beginning, middle, and an ending.

  • Go on a penny hike. At each corner, flip a coin: tails go left; heads go right.

  • Ask specific questions about your child’s day: “What was the most fun?” “Did you learn anything new?” or “What do you want to remember about today?”

  • Play the alphabet game. Recite letters as you go up and down stairs, do push-ups, or throw a ball or Frisbee.

  • Set a time when you and your child sit down and read. During this time, ask your child questions about what they are reading. Have them predict outcomes or talk about characters.

  • Take a summer walk around the neighborhood. Point out environmental print like street names, storefronts, and billboards. Your surroundings can always be used to practice reading and letter recognition.

  • Write words on index cards and put them in a paper bag. Have your child draw a word out of the bag, one at a time. Have your child say the world. When he or she has several words out of the bag, see if he or she can make a sentence with the words.

Michele Van Leeuwen, a Salt Lake City mom, created Summer Bridge Activities to give parents the tools and motivation they need to help children throughout the summer months.