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Summer Engagement: Five Ways to Keep Their Minds Active


The National Summer Learning Association warns of "summer slide” a.k.a. "summer setback,” whereby a student, often as measured by standardized tests, appears to lose a portion of what was learned in the previous academic year. The cure to this phenomenon lies in summer engagement. Children who stay engaged over the summer in ways that challenge them on an appropriate level are shown to build their skills steadily through June, July and August.

Camps and tutors aside, there are plenty of ways a family can positively impact their student’s intellect over the summer. Here are a few suggestions that can be tailored by age:

1) Hit the Bookshelves

Let the student choose the book. If he or she is young, direct them to options that meet their reading level. For older students, suggest a book club of 2 or more, with friends or family members. When reading the newspaper, invite your kids to join or involve them by asking their thoughts on a particular event.

2) Create a Budget or Chore Chart

For those old enough to find employment, urge them to record their spending and balance a checkbook. This will pay off in the future in more ways than one! For younger kids, help them contribute to the house by creating a chore chart that they can check off.

3) Take a Field Trip

Read signs and ask questions when you and your child visit local attractions. Flat Rock Public Library, and others in the area, are part of The Library Network, which offers discounts on passes to places such as local parks, the Detroit Zoo, and museums including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan Science Center, and Sea Life Michigan Aquarium. Ask a librarian, or access the Michigan Activity Pass online at

4) Grocery Shop Together

Talk about how the food is grown and encourage him or her to try a new item and research recipes. Discuss price, nutrition and reading labels.

5) Pick up a Journal or Make a Scrapbook

Urge kids to keep the pencil moving all summer. Suggest that they write every day, perhaps at breakfast, or before bed. They could write about their feelings, create a story, or send a letter to a friend. Some journals come with writing prompts on each page. Another option is to get a blank drawing pad and turn it into a scrapbook.

With hot sunny days and cool starry nights, a summer out of the classroom allows for learning in non-traditional ways. Enjoy the time with your kids, and show them that a day without teachers doesn’t equal a day without thinking. See you in the fall!

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