BY DONESA WALKER, M.Ed Owner of LearningRx of Shreveport-Bossier
Having a fun summer time and still staying sharp for another school year is an important task that seems to bombard every parent each year. Picking the right summer camps and activities that stimulate the brain and are still fun puts a lot of pressure on parents and grandparents. But Summer Fun doesn’t have to include a Summer Slide of learning skills. For a few simple ways to celebrate the summer, simply think back to the long summers of your childhood. There are simple things within your grasp in your community that stimulate brain activity and even a thing or two in this new-fangled technological world that can plug that drain too. Take a few notes, cut out an idea or two and simply have fun!
First, don’t be afraid of your child being BORED! Boredom actually creates innovation. I remember some of the best memories of my life came from the days I was so bored that I had to get creative. Pull out a memory or two from your childhood of lazy summer days reading a book, playing jacks on the front porch, chasing fireflies in the dark, telling creative ghost stories around a camp fire…share these with your child/grandchild. Storytelling is a lost art that never gets old. Break out your talent and be wild with your memories for these are priceless. The best thing about summer to me is reading and what child/teen/adult could not benefit from that adventure.
Here are a few sites offering recommendations on good materials to make the mind soar:
http://www.guysread.com/ (for boys by guys)
http://www.amightygirl.com/books for girls (lots of other stuff for girls there too)
https://www.goodreads.com/list/tag/teen (teens-choose wisely)
https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/blog-posts/genia-connell/100-books-build-character/ (books to build character in your child)
Another idea is to Create a “Bored” box. Put in the box things that remind you of your childhood-even the box itself and when your child says, “I’m Bored”, give them the box, have them pull an item out, and then let them creatively use that item. Or if you don’t have a lot of childhood memories of fun times, put small things in that can creatively get the juices flowing-a coloring book & crayons, a stuffed animal and a blanket, a bag of marshmallows and a large bar of chocolate (or just a picture of a recipe for the smaller kids). Put small blocks and tiny figurines in with some toys and some “Easter” grass so they can form a fairy garden or a war zone. Fill a show box up with some “dollar toys” or some of their own toys they haven’t played with in a while, and wrap it or have them play guess what it is. Put in some of your old clothes for “dress-up”, some old socks to use for sock puppets, etc. Let your imagination go wild for a minute and then when they are bored, you can show them how fun imagination really is! Here’s a great website to try: http://mothers-home.com/85-activity-ideas-for-bored-kids/
If you are having trouble with this idea, then try a deck of cards or two. There are some really great card games that can be played with a deck of cards that most people have in their house. Everything from sorting by color to putting in order by number to poker! https://www.pagat.com/ this website offers hundreds of card game ideas with a simple deck of cards. However, there are also many other types of card games that rock too! Uno, Scrabble Slam, Scattergories, Rook, Phase10, & WhizKids are some of my favorites. I can remember all the evenings growing up when my parents invited other families over to our house and they all sat down to play Mille Bornes-a fun, fast-paced game about driving a car to a destination at the fastest speed you could manage all in a deck of cards!!! It is still my most favorite of all time. (yes, I know -I did it on purpose for the grammar police out there).
Another great inspiring and potentially family building experience is game night. Family game night can do wonders for the brains of your kids and for you! Other board games that challenge the mind can take longer and work on strategy which ultimately enhances the logic & reasoning skills needed in upper math skills. Some of these include Connect4, Checkers, Chess and the ultimate RISK! Monopoly and Life still stand out as the games of the decade in my teens (oops! Revealing my age there). Some other board games that are great for the brain are found here- http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/15-fun-board-games-that-exercise-your-brain-and-make-you-smarter.html. Or http://learningrxreviews.com/category/games/ (5 second Rule rocks in the home or on the road-I even use it at work!)
So, vacation time has arrived and as you hit the road, you make sure the DVD player is loaded with all the DVDs the car can hold as well as all the video game paraphernalia to keep the, “Are we there yet?” manageable, but here are a few Car Games to try instead that build that wonderful imagination in your child’s brain and challenge that memory to grow. Build a Story in the Car: This game starts with the phrase, “In the car there was…..” The first person fills in the blank with anything, such as, “A French goat.” The next person repeats that and adds another object or phrase; “In the car there was a French goat cooking on a George Forman Grill.” The game ends when one of the players forgets part of the story. Encourage kids to picture the scene and try to connect the vivid images. The sillier the images, the better! This helps them to build the mental skills of long-term memory and divided attention. Another way to play is the first person starts the list with a word (rather than a phrase) that starts with “A”, the next person repeats the “A” word and adds a “B” word, then a “C” word, etc. Another game is I Spy a Sound: the first person begins with the phrase, “I spy something that starts with the ‘S’ sound. The other players take turns guessing, and between each guess they get another sound clue, such as, “I see something that starts with the ‘s’ sound and is the color that starts with the ‘r’ sound.” This revved-up version of the old favorite helps with logic and reasoning and promotes auditory process skills. Again, a good variation is to progress in alphabetical order as above, with subsequent hints given without regard to beginning sounds (although extra points might be awarded for doing so!). And there’s always the license plate game and many others. http://www.minitime.com/trip-tips/10-Best-Car-Games-for-Kids-article
When all else fails and you child just has to have some Tech Time-go for the apps that are good for the brain. LearningRx offers a list of 100 apps that are good for the brain, and you can call us or email us to get that for free. Shreveport.firstname.lastname@example.org or you can see a few here http://learningrxreviews.com/category/apps/ but my favorite is a personalized list from http://learningworksforkids.com/. Here you can enter your child’s things he or she needs to work on and they give you a personalized list of apps/games to build those skills. So cool!
Finally, the camps!!! There are so many amazing camps that feature some really great options in our community. There are day camps and VBS opportunities galore. Check out the lists that are here in Lola for just a few of the stellar ones in our area-(my favorite are the brainy ones, but I might be partial). Most of all, enjoy every moment because these days are fleeting and even listening to,” I’m Bored,” is missed when they head off to college and beyond…..