Updated: Aug 3, 2020
Summer is upon us, and with the world slowly opening back up, we are actually starting to feel like normal human beings again. That doesn't mean, however, that we need to stop our children's learning. While we admit it may be difficult to force your kids into studying over the holiday without a specific goal in mind, there are many less painful activities they can partake in to keep their minds sharp over the summer.
1. READING A BOOK THEY CHOOSE THEMSELVES
Unless it's something tantalizing, being read off of a brightly lit screen, on a gossip website, AND about (insert favourite reality TV star here), reading is widely considered a type of homework or chore. To get around this, you need to make sure to let your child choose the book themselves; even suggesting an "easy" novel that you once read in high school will still seem like you are assigning reading material. Letting kids choose something on their own creates a relationship with the book, allows them to explore the seemingly infinite variety of genres and titles, and avoids the feeling of (gulp!) homework in the middle of summer. We recommend sticking to books and avoiding magazines, as the latter do not offer the same foundational content (they are more actual than factual, and use much more basic language and writing styles). For the tech-oriented teen, you may want to consider buying a reading tablet (such as a Kindle), which has a quick definition function, saved highlighting, and even a Wikipedia search shortcut. Another idea is downloading the Goodreads app. Goodreads is like imdb, but for books. On it, they can find book descriptions and reviews, add friends and socialize, compare reading lists, and more. Added tip: try to read in the daytime. Reading before bed creates sleep and boredom association with reading, which is one of the main reasons that book you began reading in January is still on your nightstand.
2. GET PHYSICAL TO GET THE MENTAL GOING
One of the most neglected course during the distance learning months was physical education. With the incredible amount of time it took from parents this past term to keep up with the online work their kids had to do, PE got demoted to low priority to make way for perennial heavy hitters like math, English and science. So why are we advocating the increase of physical activity? For starters, physical activity increases the oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Higher aerobic fitness is also linked to improved problem solving, attention, and memory, all key aspects of learning. Secondly, all learning is state dependent, and just 15 minutes of exercise alters one's mood by increasing levels of feel-good hormones like endorphins and dopamine. Lastly, it will give one a sense of accomplishment, and leave them feeling motivated immediately after a workout. It doesn't need to be a tough and grueling workout. You can try something fun like dancing or Zumba, something challenging like a makeshift obstacle course, or just work out as a family. Keep your kids moving at least three times a week!
3. INVOLVE THEM IN A SMALL HOME PROJECT
We all have small home "projects" that we work on throughout the year and summertime is no exception. Whether it's getting new tiles for the bathroom floor, or changing that old wallpaper in the bedroom, or just ordering groceries for upcoming an dinner party, planning always comes first (hopefully!). Math always finds its way into all avenues of real life, and a small home project can prove to be a fun and practical way for students to apply math skills to a real-world problem. There will normally be various quantities to consider, timings to schedule, and most likely, amounts of money to be carefully calculated. If there isn't a project on the horizon, letting them choose a baking recipe will do the trick (all that measuring and following steps in order). Allowing your child to work out some of these numbers with you will help hone their math skills, build confidence in their abilities and feel some pride in helping out at home. As an added bonus, there is nothing more satisfying than finally being able to answer your child when they come home from school and ask you for the 100th time: "What am I ever going to use this for??"
4. TALK TO THEM ABOUT COLLEGE AND CAREER
Yes, it might be too early. And yes, it may seem like a typical probing Mom/Dad question. It's still worth asking, because in a non-academic time such as a summer holiday, students may have a different perception, a more relaxed view of the future. They will have also spent some time observing different professions and projects taking place around their city. It can be a great time for them to explore what kind of plans await them without the pressure of schoolwork and grades behind it just yet. Of course, some kids may not be receptive at all. Don't worry about being stonewalled or getting a snappy "What kind of question is that??" response; Once a question is asked to someone, the person's mind will immediately and automatically begin to try and answer it. This mental reflex in the brain is called "instinctive elaboration". You will have gotten them to think about it, whether they wanted to or not. As parents of teenagers, sometimes the only thing one can do is simply plant the seed of thought every once in a while. Let them reflect on what they like and what they want. At this stage, learning about themselves is probably the most important learning of all.
THIS WEEK'S BRAIN TEASER!
(Answer to the previous riddle: 10!)
Get the answer to this in the next issue!
JUST FOR LAUGHS!
Until next time!