Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer—which officially begin June 5, the last day of school—can be costly to the brain. Educators say students can lose up to two months of reading and math skills during summer months, forcing teachers to spend multiple weeks when school resumes bringing student brains up to speed.
But there is much parents can do to help avoid a summer slide. Here are some suggestions to keep brains and bodies fired up this summer—what is good for one is good for the other. The list includes ideas supplied by Winter Park Consortium Healthy School Team Leaders.
- Check out Find Active Fun at www.findactivefun.org, your source for hundreds of ideas for free and low-cost active fun for the family. It is supported by Healthy Central Florida, a community initiative aimed at making local residents the healthiest in the nation.
- Start summer with a family bucket list of activities members want to do and places to visit.
- Have kids sign up for swim lessons or a summer swim team. Both exercise the mind and body. Or encourage them to learn to play tennis—or any sport they haven’t tried before. The brain loves new challenges.
- Sign kids up for music lessons—great for building the brain and attention span.
- Use sidewalk chalk to write letters on the ground and have children hop from letter to letter spelling words. (Movement helps retention of knowledge)
- Check out the many fun activities at the YMCA of Central Florida.
- Protect precious brains by making sure kids always remember to use a bicycle helmet and making sure it fits properly. (That includes parents too.) Also, teach them to never dive into water unless they know how deep it might be.
- Read, have your children read, read along with them and read to them, or even better, help them create a summer book club with friends. To learn how to get started, go to the PBS Parents website: www.pbs.org/parents, then click on “education” and then “reading and language”
- Visit local and state parks as a family and keep a log of where you go. Wear a pedometer and keep track of steps as well.
- Get some exercise— and some healthy fruits and vegetables—by visiting one of the many farmers markets in Central Florida. To find out where they are located click here.
- Go canoeing or kayaking together and see who can spot the most Florida critters.
- Encourage kids to try out a new hobby. One idea—the Winter Park Public Library has a “Knotty Knitters” club for all ages and skill levels.
- And lastly, but just as important as all of the other tips, have fun together!