How to Keep Your Child's Brain Sharp This Summer

Jul 20, 2022, 16:54 PM by Emily Sampl

School may be out for summer, but that doesn’t mean that your kiddo should take a break from learning. As the old saying goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” New skills that kids worked hard to develop during the school year can quickly fade away if not practiced regularly. 

Participating in summer learning activities like reading, writing or playing outside not only reinforces and enhances the skills your kids learned during the school year, it helps them build important academic, social and relationship skills that they’ll take with them well into the future. 

The National Summer Learning Association offers great tips and ideas to prevent the “summer slide” and close educational and opportunity gaps among children. A great place to start in planning your child’s summer enrichment is with the NSLA’s three steps to summer learning – review, reconnect and reflect.

• Review: Before school is out, connect with your child’s teachers to see what skills they recommend practicing over the summer. Maybe they’ve just learned to read or finally figure out an important skill in math that they can continue to practice. 

• Reconnect: Figure out what activities your child enjoys or who they like to spend time with, and make those a part of your enrichment plan to keep your child motivated and excited to learn.

• Reflect: Share your child’s progress with their new teachers in the fall.

So what kinds of activities are great for summer learning? 

Depending on what’s best for your child and your family, structured programs like summer camps, enrichment programs at local community centers or youth sports programs at local YMCAs might be the perfect fit. Or maybe you’d prefer an unstructured environment at home with friends and family where your kids can explore their interests freely. Either way, there are endless activities that facilitate learning, and they can take place right in your own backyard. 

Here are a few ideas to get started: 


1. Read!

Whether it’s through a book club, as a family or just for fun, make sure that your kids find time for reading each day. Help them choose books that they find interesting and set reading goals with rewards for achieving those goals. Check your local library for summer reading programs.

2. Stay active.

Learning doesn’t have to be a sedentary activity – get outside! Explore nature with your child, check out local recreation programs or help them build a fort in your backyard. Learning new physical skills is just as important as academic skills. If you are considering a drive up to Rocky Mountain National Park, check out the Junior Ranger program located at Hidden Valley. This free, self-guided program encourages kiddos to learn about nature and connect with wildlife in safe and responsible ways. Plus, they get a cool badge. 

3. Be creative. 

Encourage your child to use their imagination to build things out of household items, invent games, write a story or poem, create art or perform a play, and then share with family and friends. Check out this blog post with 45 fun project ideas. 

4. Build a garden. 


Gardening is a great way for kids to learn about all sorts of things like soil, plants, bugs and the lifecycle, and it also encourages healthy eating habits. 

5. Visit a local learning center. 

Local museums, aquariums, zoos or nature centers are full of fun and engaging activities for kids. They’ll have a blast learning about the world and will take home oodles of interesting facts to wow their friends with. 

6. Make math fun! 

Math can be one of the key skills that’s lost over the summer if not practiced. Turn regular activities, like cooking or shopping, into a math review. Have your child add up prices or count ingredients to keep their skills sharp.  

For more tips and resources to keep your kids’ brains and bodies active over the summer, check out the NSLA’s Summer Learning Week guide with summer programs and resources, family toolkits, summer learning themes and more. Happy learning!