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9 Little-Known Ways You & Your Child Can Get Smarter This Summer

Summer is officially here!

While we’re all looking forward to warmer weather, beach days, BBQs, and catching up on some R&R, it’s important to make summer learning a priority too.

According to research, many students experience what educators call a “summer slide” – which is depreciated knowledge and learning skills in the summer months -- with lower-income students suffering the largest losses.

That doesn’t have to be your child though! Educators have found that by blending academic learning with hands-on recreational activities, you can help your child avoid that summer slide and be better equipped for the coming school year.

Luckily, we’ve put together a list of 9 little-known ways you and your child can get smarter this summer with some brain-boosting alternatives to traditional summertime activities!

1. Create a book club: A great way to stimulate your little one’s growing mind this summer is to pick a few books that interest you and your child. According to Scholastic, reading as few as six books during the summer can help a struggling reader from regressing. Pick a book that you can read to your child or something that you can read together and discuss. Utilize your local library for some reading inspiration – your librarian can help you select a few books that match your child’s age, interests, and reading abilities. Oftentimes, libraries will run summer reading programs to motivate kids to read or have recommended book lists available.

2. Limit screen time: Playing video games for more than two hours per day can damage developing neurological systems in young children … resulting in hyperactivity and shortened attention spans. As for teenagers, too much time spent texting and on their cell phones has shown to lower their IQ by 10 points! A great way to get your kids away from their computers, TV, and off of their cell phones is to play board games with them. Problem-solving games like chess, Scrabble, and backgammon (among others) have tons of brainpower potential and are great to enjoy with the whole family. For more ideas, check out these brain-boosting games on Amazon.

3. Visit a local museum: Spending an hour or two exploring a museum with your kids is a great way to learn about local art and history. Many museums offer interactive classrooms, which makes learning a bit more fun in a casual setting. Planning a trip to a museum with friends and/or family is a great way to get out of the house and do something together. Plus, a lot of museums offer free days of the week or discounted admission for students.

You can visit the American Alliance of Museums to find a museum in your city and to start planning your next trip!

4. Binge watch an educational series with your child: While limiting screen time is important, finding ways to utilize your TV for educational purposes is a great way to satisfy kids’ appetite for entertainment, while also learning something new. Thanks to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, there is so much great TV right at our fingertips. Click here to see some teacher-recommended shows to stream with your kids!

5. Learn something new with YouTube: YouTube channels like CrashCourse, Khan Academy, and Brilliant are a great place to outline a new subject or topic with your child. With educational content ranging from math, science, engineering, statistics, theater, drama, and sociology, there’s something to peek every child’s interest.

Of course, nothing beats the one-on-one attention an online tutor can provide when learning about a new subject. At Jill’s Tutors, we have an award-winning teacher’s network of educators and top tutors available for all subjects and all levels, who can provide all of these benefits and more!

6. Encourage writing: While there’s more downtime in the summer – especially for kids -- a great way to keep their minds active and engaged is to encourage writing activities. Whether it’s starting a journal, building a scrapbook, penning short stories, or starting their very own blog, finding ways to keep your children reading and writing during their summer break will help prevent that summer slide.

For your budding Hemingway, websites like Edublog and Kidblog offer teachers and students a free blog space with the appropriate security to publish their work.

7. Get involved in the community: With so much social activism happening at this moment of time, getting your kids involved in their community and passionate about their world, is a great way to help build self-confidence and self-esteem. Sites like Volunteer Match offer a searchable database with a variety of volunteer options for kids. We also like CitizenKid, which is a collection of books that teach children about the world around them, and inspire them to be better citizens. You can even plan your own family community-centered activities like volunteering at a local nursing home, donating meals and old clothes to shelters, and cleaning up local parks and neighborhoods.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the Coronavirus is still very much a threat to our health and our community, and to practice all CDC recommended guidelines when venturing outside your home like social distancing and frequent hand washing.

8. Build a garden: Gardening is a great way to promote learning and to get outdoors! In fact, gardening has been linked to developmental, physical and psychological benefits for children. Not only does it provide engaging, moderate exercise, it encourages healthy eating, builds a sense of confidence, relieves stress, improves focus, and develops STEM and analytical abilities.

9. Get enough sleep and exercise: Just because it’s summer, it doesn’t mean your kids should be slacking on their sleep or daily exercise. While they might not have to get up early for school, they should continue to go to bed at a reasonable time. According to a study out of Tel Aviv University, a 6th grader who loses out on one hour of sleep functions more like a 4th grader who is well-rested.

Most children need a solid 8 hours of sleep to function at their best, in addition to regular physical activity. The list of cognitive benefits achieved through exercise is growing every year. Physical activity has been linked to improved concentration abilities, improved scores, and promotes a higher mental function.

It’s important to keep your kids learning this summer – flexing their brain muscles will make them more prepared for school when August and September roll around. With stimulating summertime activities, your child will be in the best position to succeed in school and ready to work hard!

If your student has fallen behind in school or is struggling with their summer learning activities, we’re here to help. Simply visit our website, call or text 512-598-5135 or email us at, and we’ll set you up with one of our talented nationwide educators.

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