It’s summertime, and while schools may be closed, that doesn’t mean kids have to take a break from learning. In fact, some of that hard-earned knowledge may disappear if they do. According to the National Summer Learning Association, learning loss is epidemic in the summer for kids who don’t keep up some sort of brain activity. So how do you combat brain-drain during the summer but still give your kids the carefree break they deserve? Try some of these fun and easy ways for the whole family to combine time off with brain boosters.

1. JOIN YOUR LOCAL SUMMER READING PROGRAM.

The summer reading program at local libraries have activities and prizes for kids. Sign up your kids AND have a friendly family competition to see who can read the most this summer. Find a list of local Middle Tennessee libraries HERE.

2. SUMMER LEARNING DOESN'T HAVE TO BE SCREEN-FREE.

Download those apps that make reading, science, social studies and math fun. Choose educational game apps that review skills your child learned during the year and have at it.

3. GROW A GARDEN.

Tending a garden takes patience, skill and brain power. See who can grow the biggest zucchini!

4. VISIT A MILITARY BATTLEFIELD.

There are Civil War sites in our area that offer walking trails and reenactments. Walk the trails together and discuss history. A couple of local favorites include Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro and the Carter House & Carnton Plantation in Franklin.

5. HAVE HIM MAKE THE COLD TREATS LIKE ICE CREAM.

Food.com or allrecipes.com have recipes for this sweet homemade treat.

6. GO ON A TREASURE HUNT BY GEOCACHING.

Using a GPS, treasure seekers enter a specific set of coordinates and then attempt to find a hidden container at the location. Check out geocaching.com to find out more.

7. TEACH HIM TO BAKE.

Pick a recipe and let your child apply his knowledge of measuring and fractions.

8. CHECK OUT A BOOK ON A FAMOUS ARTIST.

Visit the library and find a book on a famous artist like Vincent van Gogh. Let your child create his own rendering of one the artist’s masterpieces and then frame it.

9. TOUR THE TOWN.

Take a self-guided walking tour of your area and study the architecture. Look for geometric shapes or Greek or Roman influences.

10. VISIT AN OLD CEMETERY.

This is a great way to get a conversation going on the way things used to be compared to now — it will lead to discussions of innovation.

11. HAVE A LEMONADE, POPSICLE OR COOKIE STAND.

Let your child make a budget, buy supplies and balance the accounts — let him do it ALL himself.

12. VISIT A MUSEUM.

From art and history to science and creative play, there are a variety of interesting museums all over Middle Tennessee with exhibits geared toward kids. Check out what's happening this summer at these family favorite spots: Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Cheekwood, Adventure Science Center, Discovery Center, Frist Center for the Visual Arts and The Hermitage.

13. LISTEN TO OTHER LANGUAGES.

Attend a cultural festival, start learning a foreign language or visit an ethnic restaurant.

14. GO CREEKIN’.

Take a creek walk together and get your hands dirty. Flip over rocks and find crawdads. Discuss creatures that live in this habitat.

15. GO BERRY PICKING TOGETHER.

Visit a local berry patch and enjoy picking some to “put up” for jam or bake a pie together. Lots of local farms offer pick-your-own berry fun.

16. DISCOVER POETRY.

Read Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses and more classics for kids.

17. VOLUNTEER.

Check out Hands On Nashville for youth-related service activities.

18. PLAY TRIVIA CRACK, WORDS WITH FRIENDS AND MORE.

Keep those brains active with fun how-much-do-you-know activities to build vocabulary and knowledge.

19. HAVE THE KIDS USE A REAL MAP ON YOUR VACATION.

Using a scale map and ruler, figure out how many miles and approximately how many hours it will take to get there.

20. SEND POSTCARDS.

Postcards are fun to receive in the mail — encourage your child to write them from wherever you go this summer.

21. MAKE A FAMILY TREE.

Draw your family tree together before a family reunion and get old Uncle Joe to fill in some of the blanks.

22. GO TO A FAMILY REUNION AND CHAT.

Talk with the oldest person in the room at the family reunion. Help your child write down some of the interesting stories.

23. BUILD AN OBSTACLE COURSE.

Let your kids design and construct an obstacle course in the backyard. Invite the neighbors and have a parents vs. kids race.

24. CAMP OUT!

Go camping and show your child how to set up a tent and build a campfire. Have him tell a story around the campfire, too.

25. MAKE A SCRAPBOOK.

Let your kids write the captions for your summer memories.


Smart Tips to Stop “Summer Slide”

Learning Activities for Families Keep Brains Engaged and Energized

NO-COST BRAIN GAMES & ACTIVITIES

  • 20 Questions — Think of a person or thing and give your child 20 chances to guess what it is by asking yes or no questions. Sharpens memory, logic and reasoning skills.
  • Rhyme Time — Have your child choose four rhyming words and use them to create a poem. For younger kids, simply say a word then take turns coming up with words that rhymes with it. Builds auditory analysis, verbal rhythm and memory.
  • Needle in a Haystack — Take a page from a newspaper and time your child as she circles all occurrences of a specific letter or word. Improves visual processing speed and sustained attention.

PHYSICAL EXERCISES TO ENERGIZE THE MIND & BODY

  • Counting Counts — Encourage your child to count by 2s, 3s, 4s etc. when they go up stairs, dribble a basketball, swing on a swing set or jump rope. Builds math fluency, processing speed, divided attention and memory.
  • Jacks — This old-fashioned, brain-building game is still a winner. Helps build visual processing skills, processing speed and attention.

SOURCE: Learning RX