Okay, it's summer. Some of us have been out of school for over a month, some are currently in summer school, some just finished a term and some are just starting a new term. Wherever you are in the grand educational scheme of things, you cannot deny it is summer. Heat, humidity, flip-flops, floaties, vacations, staycations, playcations, and so on.
One thing teachers have a hard time with when students first return to school is that they spend the first month in review because the little darlings' minds have turned to mush over the summer. What about the big darlings? Are we letting our minds turn to mush? Are we just setting our brains in neutral and cruising through summer, justifying our lack of brain stimulation with, "Well, I worked hard all school year! I deserve some time off!"?
Cut that out! Get your brain off its fat behind and get it moving! Not being in school is no reason to let the gray matter atrophy! I hear that whining. "So what do we do??" Hear are some practical ways to boot camp your brain during the summer so you (and your children) will be ready to hit the books with gusto when the fall semester starts.
1. Family Reading Hour: After dinner, when all the dishes are done and the table is cleared, turn off the TVs, computers, cell phones and other electronic devices (that includes you, Dad, and confiscate the kids' phones and iPods), and sit down and read for an hour. You can read as a family or read individually - but read. Not mush or romances, but something that will challenge you, make you think, etc. Right now I am reading, "The Untilled Garden: Natural History and the Spirit of Conservation in America, 1740-1840". Not light reading, but very interesting reading. Your children will benefit from this, too.
2. Brain Calculator: When you go grocery shopping, leave the calculator at home. Take a pad of paper and a pen. Manually add your purchases (and figure out the tax). Take the children and make a game of it. See who can come closest to the final tally. In fact, set a budget. See if you can stay in that budget. Now there's a challenge!
3. Math Geography: At dinner, alternate between reviewing the multiplication tables and reciting the states and their capitols. Let one child pick the tables - say the 3's and the 6's or all states beginning with A or N. Or Quickfire - point to a child and say, "Delaware!" That child needs to respond with "Dover!" Or "6 x 3!" and child - "18!", etc. They can do the same back to you!
4. Vegicolor/Fruticolor: How many veggies can you name that are red? Fruits that are purple? etc. Make a game of it with your children.
5. From Point A to Point B: Pick two places in your town a good distance apart. Think about two ways to get from one to the other. Ask your children to do the same. If you're not good with directions, look on a map. No fair cheating with the GPS or Google maps or Mapquest. To make this one more difficult, think about getting from one place to the other from two different directions.
Stimulate your brain with anything that really makes you have to THINK. By the time you're finished with any one of these activities (except for the reading), you should say, "Yikes! My brain hurts!" That's the whole purpose - to make your brain work instead of cruise. Try it. Stay tuned . . .