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Keep Your Child’s Brain Growing Over the Summer Holidays

A student reading and learning over the summer holidays

When the school year ends, we all need a break (even the teachers!) and summer is the perfect time for play and relaxation with family and friends. However, we still want to make sure that kids’ brains stay sharp over the holidays, so here are some ways to sneak in some natural learning!

Reading: Make sure your child has enjoyable reading material at the right level. All formats and genres count, so don’t dismiss magazines, comics/graphic novels or e-reading. When planning trips or outings, involve kids by checking out websites for your destination, and encourage them to Google topics of interest. Model reading as a parent, too: whether it’s cookbooks, newspapers or novels, your child will take a cue from you if you are reading for pleasure. Finally, consider choosing some fun summer read-alouds, even if your child is old enough to read to herself. Good Reads has some great family read-aloud ideas, which you can find here.

Writing: Kids are quicker to buy in when the writing has a real purpose: a list of what to pack for camp, a postcard from vacation, or even an email to check in with a school friend. I still have the travel journal my then-6-year-old daughter kept from a road trip to the East Coast, with photos, ticket stubs and her unedited recounts of our adventures.

Math: As parents, we’re using Math constantly; the key is to bring our kids in on the conversation. Telling time (using clock and calendar), measuring for baking and cooking, working with money, telling temperature – these are all essential components of Math that can easily be worked into summer activities to keep the concepts fresh.

Encourage questions: Last summer, my girls learned many things that aren’t on the curriculum just because they asked, such as how credit cards work, why there are solid and dotted lines on the highways, and they even got an incidental lesson on same-sex marriage sparked by The Amazing Race Canada. Kids need to feel safe to ask questions, and it’s okay when parents admit they don’t know. Finding answers together can be the best learning of all!

Physical education, the arts, science, history and geography…so many fun and educational topics are yours to explore over the holidays, with no workbooks required! Enjoy!

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