Tips for Keeping Kids’ Brains Engaged Over the Summer

While every parent relishes the thought of no after-school activities or sporting events, summer can have challenges of its own. Having the kids home for summer may make for lazy, relaxed days, but keeping the kids from being bored is not an easy task.

Keeping the kids’ brains engaged over the summer is not an easy task either.

However, there are ways that you can keep kids thinking and make their mind engaged while they are daydreaming at the beach.

Use the Outdoors

Using the good old outdoors is a great way to keep kids thinking as well as active. There are so many activities in the great outdoors that can expand a child’s mind.

The Beach – Going to the beach does not have to be an entire day spent in the water. Make a deal with your child that you will take him or her and a friend or two to the beach and even treat them to lunch if they will give you an hour of reading time. Pack up the sunscreen and a good book and go.

Camping – If you have never gone camping before, taking your kids while they are little is a great way to engage their bodies and their minds. Camping takes a lot of preparation and some effort as well. Have your kids fully participate in the packing up and purchasing gear. Take your kids to the local library and grab some camping books so they can read up on the subject.

Look into pitching a real old-fashioned tent or maybe even have them agree that they have to learn how to put the tent together. Nothing makes a kid’s brain work harder than trying to figure out how to pitch a tent!

Picnics – Make a deal with your kids to take them on a picnic and perhaps a boat ride in exchange for them bringing along an educational game to play while picnicking – perhaps a good old-fashioned game of chess, checkers, or a board game that involves some critical thinking. They do not have to know that these games keep them thinking; let them just think it is a fun idea to play board games in the park.

Sightseeing

There are probably many forms of sightseeing right in your town or a neighboring town that are educational and fun.

Go to a Museum – A trip to your big city to visit a well-known museum is a learning experience but also fun.

Go to a Historical Home – Taking a trip to a historical home can be fun and educational as well.

Visit a Planetarium – Going to a planetarium loads kids up on science while giving them tons of fun.

These are just a few great ways to keep kids entertained while exercising their brain.

How Music Affects Kids’ Intellectual and Creative Development

Music and the Brain!

Study after study has shown how music positively affects children’s developing brains.

Music enhances intellectual development in various ways. Here are some of them.

Math – Math and music are natural partners. Even on a very basic level, understanding and reading music requires some math skills. Rhythms are expressed in wholes and fractions (whole notes, quarter notes, half notes, etc.), and even the measures in written music are divided into equal sections. So it stands to reason that math and music enhance each other.

Reading – Interestingly, reading skills can be enhanced by music study. A 2009 study took a look at this and concluded that music training (not just listening to music) gave children an edge over their non-musically trained peers. Kids who took music lessons showed better reading skills when compared to their non-musical counterparts.

Overall academic performance – Adolescents can also benefit from the intellectual effects of music. Studies have shown that kids this age who participate in music lessons and attend concerts with their parents do better in school.

Music and creativity – Let’s not forget the creative side! Music also affects children’s creative development.

Creative thought patterns – At its core, creativity is basically a particular type of thought pattern. Music encourages this type of creative thinking. After all, the number of pitch, rhythm, and note combinations is practically infinite!

Imagination – Listening to music evokes all sorts of wonderful, imaginative images. Children can conjure up all kinds of scenes and pictures in their minds based on music. And sometimes, these can come out as artwork.

New worlds – Music spans the globe. Listening to music from different times and cultures gives children “fodder” for wider expanses of thought. It stimulates creative thinking by giving them something new to think about.

The art of dance – Dancing is a very creative art, and as children learn to move to music, it can open up creative ways of self-expression.

Use Your Words: Teaching Your Child to Communicate

Especially in the very early years, it can be difficult for your child to communicate how he (or she) is feeling. Instead of being able to use words to properly express themselves, children often do a lot of pointing and grunting. And if that doesn’t work, they proceed to throw tantrums. Tantrums might include hitting, kicking, screaming and crying.

None of these behaviors are effective, but your child doesn’t understand that. All he understands is that he wants or needs something he cannot find a way to vocalize, and he is frustrated that you cannot understand what is wrong.

Teaching your child to communicate can be beneficial at virtually any age. As soon as your toddler is old enough to know what they want, and distinguish that item from other items, he is most likely ready and willing to learn how to communicate that information to you. You are responsible for teaching your child productive means of communication instead of using his fists and teeth. This can be a daunting task, but children are built to learn.

Here are some helpful tips for teaching your child to communicate:

Listen

First and foremost, let your child know that you are listening to him. He needs to know that someone is trying to understand his needs. So when he is trying to tell you something, give him the benefit of your undivided attention. Tell him that you are listening and that you want to help him. Explain that you know he wants something; can he let you know what it is he needs?

Listen closely to the words (or partial words) that he is saying. If he is trying to say a word, but can’t quite form the syllables, try to help him out a little without pushing. For example, if he is saying “Tees! Tees!” try to think of what he might be referring to, and then ask him. “Honey, are you saying ‘Cheese’?” If he nods encouragingly, you know you are on the right track. If not, keep trying.

Speak Up

Sometimes, your child might not be willing or able to speak up and tell you what it is he wants. It is up to you to vocalize his needs for him. If he isn’t quite up to using words, instead let him rely on leading you to where the object is and pointing. Then, once you have found what it is he wants, tell him the word.

“This is a cracker. Do you want a cracker?” When he nods, hand it to him and repeat the word. If he responds by saying the word himself, reinforce that milestone with praise. Let him know how proud you are. Talking to your child in a calm and friendly yet adult voice is one of the ways your child learns language skills.

Explain and Enforce

When your child is acting out, especially in public, it can be beneficial to pull him aside and take the time to figure out what is wrong. If there is a lot going on at once, your child might simply be over-stimulated. Pulling him aside for a little one on one may help. Your example will also teach him patience.

Explain to him by bending down and talking to him eye-to-eye, in a quiet, calm voice that he needs to calm down for a minute, and then he can tell you – with his words – what is wrong. Once he is able to articulate what is wrong or what he wants, you can explain to him, patiently, that throwing a fit is not the right way to get what he wants. Instead, if he can ask nicely, he may get it.

Always use positive reinforcement. When your child is finally communicating what he wants, praise him for using his words. Teaching your child to communicate without throwing a tantrum takes time, but with a little patience, you can help your child talk through his problems.