Family Time to Stop Summer Brain Drain
Teachers warn students about summer brain drain, recommending summer reading or online tutorials. Research supports this, showing many school-age children lose math and literacy knowledge over the summer break.
Adults may not face the same cyclical challenges, but research shows they too can benefit from stopping their own brain drain, which may help stave off dementia.
Tackle summer brain drain together as a family with these brain-stretching ideas.
Participate in a Summer Learning Event
For the past 25 years, the non-profit National Summer Learning Association has focused on providing family resources and events to keep children’s minds engaged throughout the summer, such as mentally-stimulating games to play during long road trips. The NSLA has an online searchable database of local events and programs throughout the summer, such as reading road trips, working in a garden, and video game camps.
Donate Your Time
We often hear appeals for volunteering during the holiday season, but charities and nonprofits also need help during the summer months. Volunteering not only benefits others, it benefits you, too, with research showing it improves mental and physical well-being, reports The Atlantic. If you want to roll volunteering into your family vacation, consider a voluntourism program. Discover Corps, for example, offers family programs helping at a tortoise reserve in the Galapagos, or a wildlife center in Costa Rica. Closer to home, you can find family-friendly volunteer opportunities through the database of the Corporation for National & Community Service.
Check Out Your Local Library
If you haven’t popped into your local library lately, you might be surprised by the offerings. Crafting classes, science demonstrations, puppet shows and musical performances are just some events to tap into this summer. Librarians can help compile a road trip package for you, with books related to your destination, and audiobooks and games to keep the entire family occupied and interested. Many libraries offer summer reading challenges, with prizes for different age levels based on how many books you read.
Try a New Sport or Exercise
Learning doesn’t have to involve pen and paper to stretch our brains. Learning a new sport engages our brain muscle, too. Research has shown that physical activity helps stave off cognitive decline, reports Psychology Today, so build exercise into your summertime family outings. Grab a frisbee when you head to the dog park, and toss it around with your kids, too. Walk or bike to the ice cream shop, instead of driving. For something different and adventurous, book a zipline excursion with a ropes and ladders course.
Stopping the summer slide doesn’t have to be boring. Your family might not even notice there’s a larger plan. But your brain will.
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