3 Ways I’m Keeping My Kids’ Brains From Turning to Mush This Summer

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

It’s quite a feat to keeps kids entertained during the summer, but an even bigger one to find ways to challenge their growing brains without them catching on to your plan and rebelling against you. After all, it is their summer vacation, and I do believe children need a chance to recharge away from the classroom.

As parents, though, we need to make sure that all that recharging doesn’t come with a literal battery pack. I’m trying to steer my tweens away from their phones, tablets, and Xboxes but I’m sick of nagging them to play outside more. To think it was always the opposite when I was growing up — staying inside felt like a punishment! I still find value in that specific brand of summer boredom to this day. It stimulates creativity, especially when kids are used to always having something to distract them.

Here are 3 things that are getting my kids’ brains working without feeling like homework:

Writing prompts

On the days my kids don’t have summer camp or any activities planned, they write a list or a few paragraphs after I give them a prompt. They can be funny or serious. All I do is set a minimum of 100 words. Once they complete the task, they get 30 extra minutes of screen time, frozen yogurt, or they get to pick a movie we can watch together.

I have a list of different prompts, from sports, to describing adventures, feelings, friends, or movies they enjoy. Other friends insist on having their kids keep a journal, but it didn’t work for us. The cool thing about reading how the kids responded to their prompts is that it gets me writing as well.

Family discussions

Once a week I like to show an uplifting, inspiring, or fun article or video to my kids and then we have a conversation. Sometimes it might be a biography or an athlete’s life story. I’m not a fan of having my kids watch the news, but we do talk about current events.

My daughter always keeps me on my toes with her questions (like “Why do people hate people they don’t even know?”), while my 12-year-old son surprises me with how much he knows already about even the thorniest of topics.

To get your kids even more involved, ask them to show you their favorite Vine video, and then ask why they find it so funny or how they found it in the first place. This is a great way to also learn more about your tween and teen without them feeling like you’re interrogating them.

Making (and explaining!) recipes

Cooking together is one of my favorites ways to practice fractions. Showing measurements is very visual when you can show what a 1/3 of a cup looks like. Sometimes I will play around a bit by showing my daughter what happens when you add ¼ of a cup of sugar to another ¼ of a cup. It’s like a light bulb goes on when she realizes that (duh!) 2/4 equals ½. Recipes are also a great way of teaching kids how to follow instructions.

Do you have any other fun ways of keeping your kids thinking, writing, and practicing what they’ve learned even on their summer vacation? Please share below!

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