keep your child’s mind active this summer
Keep Your Child’s Mind Active This Summer
No matter your plans for summer break, it is wise to have some ideas on hand to encourage your child (no matter their age) to keep that mind active while out of school and provide a much-needed break from the screens.
Journaling is one of the best ways to keep them thinking. Some children are able to write about nothing and others may have wonderful ideas they can’t seem to get on the page fast enough, though most children need a little encouragement to get the wheels rolling.
Whether your child is going to day camp, sleep away camp, or traveling this summer, you can come up with fun ways to get them writing about their experiences. Here are a few ideas you can suggest.
1. Interview a family member or friend. If your child is at sleep away camp, suggest they and a friend interview each other or other campers in their bunk. This might be a fun way for new kids to break the ice. Have them start out by writing a list of questions they want to ask and then allowing enough space to record a friend’s answers.
2. Create a map. The map could be of your home, your neighborhood, a favorite park, or a place you have traveled to. Encourage your child to label the map with the places that are most memorable or meaningful.
3. Narrate a video. This is especially great for kids to do when travelling. The video could be anything of trying a new food, an uncommon animal, or a “how to” of a new activity.
4. Create a photo album. Whether your child makes a book with printed pictures (take along the Canon IVY mini photo printer) or with an online platform such as mpix (my favorite), having a tangible book of memories is extremely rewarding. The key part of this activity is having your child add descriptions to each photo or page. These descriptions can go into great depth about something they learned, they can be funny, or just plain descriptive.
5. Write a book. Have your child write a book based (no matter how loosely) on their summer. This activity can also be adapted to each child’s personality in regard to writing on paper vs. typing on the computer or using the Book Creator app. Encourage daily or weekly entries and remember to include drawings, as they are another fantastic form of expression.
6. Create a scavenger hunt. You can create a hunt for your children or your children can create a hunt for you. The hunt can lead to a special activity, person, or meal. It can include pictures or riddles. It’s the perfect way to have fun while getting creative.
7. Keep a Travel Journal. For each day of the trip, encourage your child to write something, even just a sentence or two. Keep it light and fun. Some of my favorite travel writing prompts are:
What was your favorite place you explored today?
Describe a new food you tried (smell, taste, texture, colors). Did you like it? Why or why not?
What kind of transportation did you take today? Have you ever ridden that type of transportation before?
Did you see any other kids where you went today? What were they doing? Were they the same/different as you?
Draw something you remember from today.
What’s one thing you want to bring back from your trip?
Would you come back here again? Why or why not?
Encouraging your child to do any of these activities will just help them use the skills they have learned in school without sounding like you are asking them to do schoolwork this summer.
Offer a variety of methods for these or other journaling activities. Some kids may like journaling on an iPad while others prefer pen and paper. Speech-to-text may be fun to use in some instances. Video, photography, and drawing can either enhance or take the place of written expression. It’s good to mix it up to keep children enthused and entertained.
Come the end of summer, your child will have kept those thinking muscles strong and slip right into the school year.
About the Author:
Lindsey Valente is an educational consultant in the greater Boston area working with families and students applying to preschool through Grade 12.
Previously, Lindsey worked in independent school admissions in Chicago and New York City, and has independent school experience in Dallas, London, and Boston.
She has served on the boards of two independent schools and is an associate member of the International Educational Consultant Association.
Lindsey lives outside of Boston with her husband and three children.