Summer Fun – Good For The Brain & Body

Teens playing outsideThe summer slump can come on slowly. Symptoms are sleeping in until noon and spending much of the rest of the day in front of a computer or TV screen, or texting with friends.

None of this does much for the brain, or the body. But there is much parents can do to help their adolescents and teens avoid a summer slide. Last week we gave you some suggestions on how to get your kids to keep their brains and bodies fired up this summer, what is good for one is good for the other, and this week we’re back with more.

They are supplied by Beverly Engel, Program Coordinator, Alzheimer’s Association®, Central and North Florida Chapter.

  • Research entirely new academic subjects—or brush up on familiar ones—by going to the Kahn Academy online. The Academy is a nonprofit focused on changing education by offering free courses to anyone anywhere. Check it out at
  • For further brain inspiration, go to the website for TED, a nonprofit dedicated to presenting videos of “ideas worth spreading.”  Some of the most popular videos: how great leaders inspire action, underwater astonishments, the puzzle of motivation. These can inspire family conversations. Go to
  • Get involved with the Mid-Florida Milers. It plans and conducts walks in every part of Central Florida for all ages. Their goal is to provide events that are fun and challenging. Walks start in different locations. For more information, go to
  • Check out the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge near Titusville which is home to more than 1,500 species of plants and animals. There is a wildlife drive, hiking trails and ranger- or self-guided tours. For more information, go to
  • Try your hands at a creative activity like making stained glass.
  • Get involved in volunteer work, which is not only good for the community, but according to researchers, good for brain health. Look for agencies, organizations or nonprofits performing work that inspires you.
  • Go to a movie together and discuss it afterward. Talk about moral lessons that were learned, for example, or what would have happened if a character had acted differently.
  • Other options include checking out local libraries to learn about an amazing number of activities ranging from hip hop lessons to book discussion clubs. There is even a Knotty Knitters club for all ages and skill levels at the Winter Park Public Library.
  • And lastly, but just as important, have fun together.

Versatile Black Bean Spread

[gmc_recipe 2676]

Summer Fun For Brains And Bodies

Kids PlayingThose 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, 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:, 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!

Sleep – Good For The Body And Brain


Sleeping child

Most people spend about one-third of their lives asleep, and it is important they do. It has a big impact on the health of the body and the brain.  The Nemours Florida Prevention Initiative recently published the book, “Sleep and Your Child: A Guide for Families” and in it notes “research suggests that not enough sleep in children can have a negative impact on their health, growth, behavior and cognitive development (thinking).”  Here is how sleep impacts the body, according to the guide:

Brain Development

  • promotes ability to follow directions
  • improves attention span and ability to focus
  • increases cognitive and language development
  • 90% of a child’s brain development occurs before age 5
  • some scientiststhink the brain sorts through and stores information as well as solves problems during sleep

Behavioral and Emotional Health

  • reduces tantrums or “meltdowns” by better regulating a child’s emotions
  • enables better adjustment to preschool setting
  • lowers levels of aggression

Immune System

  • boosts the immune system and helps fight off illness

Physical Growth and Development

  • gives the growing body more energy
  • improves coordination for physical activity
  • allows release of growth hormones
  • lack of sleep is linked to obesity and diabetes


The guide also provides guidelines on sleep required by children, but notes requirements vary by child. For children from birth to six months—the recommendation is about 16 to 20 total hours a day; six months to a year—about 11 hours at night, plus two daytime naps totaling three to four hours; for ages one to three—10 to 13 hours, plus an afternoon nap of one to three hours; for ages three to five—10 to 12 hours at night, plus an afternoon nap. (Most preschoolers give this up by age five); and for ages five-12—10 to 12 hours at night.


Keep Kids Learning Over Summer

Summer Learning

One of the biggest summer challenges parents face is how to make sure their children don’t forget everything they’ve learned during the school year.  According to the National Summer Learning Association, most students lose two months of grade level equivalency in math over the summer.  It’s not just math, studies have also found students can slip in reading as well.  But this can be easily prevented.  There are many simple, everyday things you can do to help your children retain knowledge.  It doesn’t require summer school, but rather taking everyday activities and looking at them differently.  Healthy Kids Today has compiled a list of ways to make sure your children’s brains stay in tip-top shape this summer.


  • Help your children develop a green thumb – Plant a garden together over the summer and watch the plants blossom.  Gardening is a great way to stay active and stimulate your brain.  Teach your children about proper plant nutrition, including how often to water, the types of soil to use and how to prune.
  • Volunteer – Have your children become a reading buddy at a local library or volunteer at a soup kitchen for the day.  You could even take the family dog to visit patients at an older adult care facility.  Doing for others has a positive impact on the “doer” as well as the recipient
  • Become a writer – Do your children have a passion for an activity, hobby or subject?  Encourage them to write it all down!  They can create a fictional story or just document what they love.  You can help them create their own blogs using sites like Tumblr and let their creativity go wild.
  • Play brain games – Do crossword puzzles, word scrambles or play Sudoku with your kids.  These simple games will help with their reading, math and spelling skills.  They are fun and great for family time!
  • Let your kids be your accountants – The next time you pay your bills, let your kids add them up for you.  If you are going on vacation, let them keep track of your receipts so you know how much you are spending.  Using math skills in this way will help them retain the information they need for the start of the school year.  It can also help them learn to budget.

Grilled Shrimp Teriyaki Kebabs

[gmc_recipe 2587]

Get Your Kids Active For Summer!

Active ParentsIt is important that your kids are getting their daily dose of exercise.  Experts recommend that children get at least 60 minutes (1 hour) of exercise each day.  That can be hard when kids are glued to video games, their phones and their computers. Healthy Kids Today has compiled a list of ways to get your kids motivated, off the couch and having fun outside.  If you like one of our tips let us know on our Facebook or on Twitter at @HealthyKids2Day.


  • Lead By Example – If you are sitting on your butt, so will your kids.  They look to you as the example they should be following.  If after dinner you normally watch TV, suggest a family bike ride, game of catch or take the entire family on a long dog walk.
  • Let Your Kids Choose – Not everyone likes the same types of activities.  If you have multiple children, let each choose an activity for the day.  Your nature lover might choose a hike in a park, the adventurer might choose to go to a rock climbing gym or your sports enthusiast might choose a family soccer game.  Letting your children choose what they want to do will make it easier for them to get excited about being active.
  • Have Toys Handy – Children are more inclined to play outside if there are toys for them to play with.  Keep a basketball, soccer ball, jump rope or Frisbee in the house.  By having these items, you are enabling your children to have an activity to participate in, rather then just saying, “go play outside” with nothing for them to do.
  • Limit Screen Time – Limit the amount of time your children are allowed to sit in front of a screen.  Watching TV or playing video games on consoles, cell phones, computers or tablets are all sedentary activities.  A lac of exercise from these sedentary activities can lead to health problems.  By limiting the amount of time you allow your children to do these things and encouraging them to be active outside, you’ll ensure they stay healthy and fit.

Scallop and Asparagus Alfredo

[gmc_recipe 2536]

Help Our Kids Make Friends Over The Summer

Making Friends – Tips from your CHILL Counselor from WPHF on Vimeo.


Summer is fast approaching.  Making new friends is an important part of summer time.  CHILL Counselor Kaiya Shannon at Brookshire Elementary gives tips on ways to help our children make friends.  For more videos please check out our Vimeo or YouTube channels.  If you would like to be featured in a video, or have an idea for a video topic, please contact Asher Levine by email at or by phone at 407.644.2300 ext. 241.



The information provided on this website, and in other data sources to which it refers, is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Such information is not a substitute for professional care. If you or someone you are caring for have or suspect you have a health problem, and/or wish to commence or modify any health care treatment, you should consult your own health care provider.