Don’t let all that hard brain work and learning during the school year disappear over the summer months. Summer can be a time of schedules gone haywire and over-the-top excitement levels. On the upside, it’s the perfect time to keep the brain agile by trying new things, eating and sleeping well and practicing mindfulness.
Brain strengthening tips and strategies
Try something new
To strengthen the kids’ brains over the holidays, have them try something new and out of their comfort zone but not out of their ability level. The brain thrives on experiences that are new but not so difficult that they are stressful for the child. Honing skills such as swimming, diving, canoeing or paddleboarding will help. But raising the bar by going camping, where kids can learn to prepare meals, get the fire started and set up a tent is practical and fun and strengthens the brain. Or start up some new family board games. Teach the kids chess (or have everyone learn together), UNO, Monopoly or Battleship.
Summer can be busy, busy, busy, and filled with excitement and overstimulation. While this may not seem stressful on paper, kids can break down quickly after too much activity and this shuts their brains down. They still need focussed quiet time every day where they can sit quietly and calmly and recalibrate.
Engaging in mindful activity helps the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that tells the amygdala that a situation isn’t scary and we can still be at rest, which helps kids (especially those with anxiety) return to a happy and relaxed state.
Get exercise every day
Summer makes getting daily exercise easy, and we know that exercise improves brain and body function, regulates emotions, improves focus, and helps kids sleep well at night. Swimming, hiking, sports, woodsy walks or trampolining all work. The main thing is to make sure the kids get off their screens for play and activity.
Eat healthy food
The markets are bursting with fresh greens, fruit and corn! There is no excuse to fall back on summer favourites like slurpees and pop, which can have dramatic mood altering effects on kids with learning issues. Balanced meals help regulate emotions and improve brain function and stamina.
Get lots of sleep
Bed time has a way of getting later and later in the summer time, and many kids fail to sleep in, leaving them cranky and unable to cope with even the most basic activities. Don’t be pressured by friends and family to keep the kids up late “because it’s summer!” Sleep directly affects mental and physical development. Try (within reason) to keep a schedule over the summer and keep the bedroom screen-free. When the kids are really wound up, spend several hours of quiet time before bed – a long bath, a long book, anything that quiets the mind.
This post is sponsored by one of our community builders, Eaton Arrowsmith
At Eaton Arrowsmith we teach our students a series of exercises to help them strengthen their brains and address the cognitive weaknesses that cause their specific learning difficulties. We operate on the principle of neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to be strengthened over time with targeted training. This sets us apart from other learning intervention programs. www.eatonarrowsmith.com