Duke of York's Royal Military School

Keeping Young Brains Active Over the Summer Holidays

The summer holidays are now in full swing, and for many parents that can mean we worry that all of the hard work our children put in from September to July will be forgotten with a month and a half of freedom from school books.

With a heatwave also baking the country right now, it will be doubly hard for any of us to persuade children to sit down and read or do a little light long division in order to keep their brains active. There are several things we can do though that will help our children’s brains to retain at least some of the information they’ve been taught over the academic year.

Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Join your local library’s Summer Reading Challenge. This is a national initiative, and this year’s theme is the Beano. Children sign up and get a large sheet with pictures of their favourite characters. Each time they finish reading a book they tell the librarian about it and then receive a sticker for their sheet. Once they complete six books (of their choice) they get a medal. This appeals to lots of children and can help them to stay on top of their reading over the summer break - especially since they get to choose the books they read for themselves!
  • Book in for an educational holiday club. Lots of parents use holiday clubs because they have to work, and if you’re a stay at home parent you might not even consider childcare - but if you can spare the money, an educational holiday club is a great way to inspire children to learn new things which they can then apply elsewhere. There are often one-off science days and suchlike as well, so it’s worth taking a look locally to see what is available for you.
  • Get as much variety as possible. If your children are at home all day every day, they will lose interest in things. Try to get them out and about, to see different scenery as much as possible. When things look exciting and new they will be more interested in reading signs, learning new things and so on. Visit museums, beaches, new cities and towns, anything that changes the scenery can spark that interest that gets their brains working.
  • Limit screen time. This can be a hard one to enforce, but it’s worth it if you can stick to your guns until the rule is embedded. Some parents allow screens only at a certain time of the day; others allow them once chores are done or after certain other activities. With younger children especially, if you can distract them from the idea of the TV or tablet with something else, they’ll often forget to ask again. Screen time is mostly passive, and while there are plenty of educational apps available for tablets these are still no substitute for real life experience so this time is better limited.
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