Help keep those young brains out of sleep mode this summer.

For most kids, school becomes a distant memory after the final bell rings on the last day of school. Another thing that becomes a distant memory is everything they learned in the past year. That means in the fall many kids spend a lot of time playing catch-up.

But you can help keep those brain cells firing over the summer. Here are some tips:

  • Have your older kids read ten minutes a day. For the younger ones (under 8) make reading a bedtime routine. You read a sentence; they read a sentence. Keep alternating. Check out our summer reading lists for kids 2-11.
  • Have them write a journal entry about what they did each day. You can buy a small notebook at the dollar store or give them loose sheets of paper and keep them in a binder. Or, have them type it on the computer.
  • Look in the newspaper for age-appropriate articles and discuss them with your child.
  • Take your children to a local museum and talk about what you see.
  • If your child was struggling in a particular subject during the school year consider hiring a tutor over the summer so they do not have to start from scratch in the fall.
  • Visit the local library. You'll find great books and summer programs for kids.
  • Make riding in the car fun. Create little games such as "Who can find a license plate from outside the province?" Or, count the number of kids you see wearing glasses. Or, play a punch buggy game. For example, if you see a man with a beard then say "bingo." That way they're reading, thinking and problem-solving all at the same time.
  • Have them write out your weekly grocery list and have them read it out to you in the store one item at a time.
  • Look up one simple research subject each week on the Internet. If you don't have computer access at home, then visit your local library once a week and use the Internet there.
  • Each time they research a topic have them make a 1-minute presentation to the family at dinner every Friday.
  • Help them set up a free e-mail address so they can e-mail their cousins, friends, or even you!
  • Bake a cake together with your children reading out the instructions and measuring the ingredients.
  • Have them take pictures with a camera and build a scrapbook using the pictures.
  • Have a games night for the neighbourhood kids. Pull out Monopoly, Sorry, Battleship and Operation. It's sure to be hit and it improves math skills.
  • Have them organize a garage sale. Make the posters together, put them up, organize the stuff, price it and sell it. Let them buy something from the store with the money they made, and have them pay for it themselves.
  • Open up a kids' bank account and teach them how to make a deposit. Teach them how to fill out the deposit slip and calculate how much money they'll have before they have their book updated.
  • Organize a Read-a-Thon. Get them to read a book a week, then reward them with a few dollars for each book that will go into their bank account.
  • If they're going to their friend's house, have them practise leaving you a note with their friend's name, number and address.

By doing a few small things every day over the summer, your child can keep that brain working and have fun!