Thanks to Rose Howell, Academic Director from Thinking Caps Group, for these tips on keeping kids’ minds sharp during the summer months while balancing the tech overload/electronic babysitter urge.
This summer, your child’s attention will turn to playdates, camp and the screens of his or her iPad, iPhone and TV. The mental stimulation provided at school inevitably takes a dive, leaving many parents wondering how to react. We now know that excessive electronic usage causes memory loss and waning communication skills (eye contact, interaction), as well as weaker observational skills, language articulation and vocabulary. Too much screen time indoors also underlies health issues such as inadequate exercise, headaches, eye fatigue and tendonitis. Here are some realistic ways for you to combat “summer brain drain,” expand your child’s education and keep his or her body and mind active.
- Harness your child’s natural curiosity. Your child is still absorbing his or her surroundings like a sponge—take advantage of this gravitational pull.
- Find a special notebook for your child, and suggest that he or she writes down any questions, hopes or musings about a topic of interest. Then, carve out a day or two each week to go exploring within that theme. If your child often has questions about the world that you can’t answer, encourage him or her to write them down for future investigation.
- Stay strong when it comes to screen time. Your children will thank you later if you’re able to nurture their relationship to reality over mind-numbing hours in front of a screen. Treat gadgets like you treat dessert—they are not a given. Set limits for screen time by being honest with your child about the effects that this time is having on him or her. If your child refuses to give up the gadget, that time will come out of his or her allotted time for the next day.
- Encourage your child to engage in imaginative play, exploration in nature and activities outdoors. Do not be fazed if your child claims he or she is bored—a healthy dose of boredom triggers new ideas.
- Fight the academic slide. Reading is one of the best ways to keep your child’s brain sharp. Go with your kids to a library or bookstore, and let them pick the books they want. If they don’t like to read, read out loud and leave off at a moment of suspense. Before you know it, they’ll begin picking up the book themselves. Also, try graphic novels—they still require the child to read, but provide accompanying visual stimulation. Books on tape are another good trick; any travel time can be an opportunity for learning.
Author Bio: Rose Howell works as an Academic Director at Thinking Caps, a unique tutoring company that takes a one-on-one, individualized approach to academic support for students of all ages and learning styles.