Build a Smarter Summer

By Liza Hards 

With the summer fast approaching, parents worry that their children will spend too much time on screens and not enough time increasing their intellectual strength. With just a little planning, however, you can face summer confident that you have the right mix of activities and learning opportunities that will prepare your child for wherever the next grade may take them. 

1.  Play to your child's interests. Is your child a reader? An artist? A scientist? All three? Make sure to incorporate these pursuits into your vacations and day trips to reinforce those interests. Planning weekly trips to your town's library and purchasing a membership at the local children's museum is a great way to start. 

2. Relax with a good book.  If you're lucky enough to be able to slow down over the summer, why not spend some of that time with a 'family read?' Pick a book (perhaps a beloved children's book that your child is now old enough to appreciate) and read it together.  Even the youngest children can get involved by having older sibs read to them. 

3. Count on math.  It's easy to integrate math into the things we do with our children everyday. Measuring in cooking and baking, calculating speed and distance for your next road trip or analyzing the best bargains on summer produce are all good ways to have your child flex those math muscles.  

4. Don't forget about day camp to keep social skills fresh. Choose a camp that is tailored to your child's interests - not just the one that seems to be the most popular in town. Now is the time to discuss camp options with them if they are old enough to have a say in the decision. For young children, a camp that is a nurturing blend of indoor and outdoor activity that sparks creativity and that's convenient to your schedule and home is just fine. 

Summer is a time for relaxing, but in reality, children never turn off their ability to learn.  Nurturing that ability, while still have lots of fun, should be your goal.