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Just like kids need to get their energy out by participating in sports, running, and playing outside, they need to exercise their mind too. I’ve realized that when we are on an extended break from school my kids are getting plenty of physical exercise, but not doing enough school work. And that’s when the “I’m bored” stuff starts! Kids like to to be challenged and you may not know where to look to find things to help your kids. Here are some things you can do.
1. Computer programs– There are some computer programs that are learning-based so kids can progress at their own pace. IXL.com is a math website that is really good. If they are having trouble, it takes longer to complete a section. It makes sure your child really knows what they are doing before they complete it. Tenmarks, Study Island, and Moby Max are a few more.
2. Learn a new language This is good for the entire family too. Rosetta Stone is an excellent program that has many languages to choose from. If you don’t want to spend that much money or not sure what language you’d be interested in, there are free apps you download just for kids. They are interactive and fun. You can buy workbooks that have foreign language puzzles and word games. Another option that is inexpensive, but easy to find are flash cards. We were fortunate to have a German family that lived next door to us for several years who we became quite close. We keep in touch regularly and this is a great incentive for our children to learn and practice their German…they love being able to communicate in another language.
3. Games, puzzles and toys We love scrabble at my house. Sometimes we take score, other times we just play around. This is great to challenge you and your child’s brain. Finding games that work on concentration, persistence, problem solving, and patience is key. Crossword puzzles are another good one. For math you may want to try brain teaser workbooks. These are also inexpensive and easy to take anywhere. The same with a Rubix’s Cube. Kids may like the Simon or maze balls too.
4. Create Kids need to create. They can do art, painting and drawing. They could build new structures with Legos. They can construct a fort out of items found in the yard. Many kids love to cook and creating a dish for the family can be very rewarding. Last Christmas I taught my kids how to sew a pillow and they loved it. We went to the fabric store and they picked out which pattern they wanted, but then I showed them how to cut and sew it up. One of my sons made a neck pillow! Kids can learn to knit or cross stitch or make countless bracelets with their looms! I could go on and on…..
5. READ! I tend to get a little aggressive when it comes to “reading time” over extended breaks, we never reach our intended goals. We get caught up in life and run out of time. However, this is so important. I try to find books that are slightly higher than my kids reading level so they are challenged. When they finish I usually let them pick out an easy book to have a faster, easier read. I love to read, but sometimes I just want a quick, light book to enjoy before I start a more challenging one. Neither of my boys love to read, so I set the timer for a time appropriate for their age. We use 30 minutes for our 4th grader and 15 minutes for the 1st grader. This seems to be a good system and they tend to not complain as much knowing there is a definitive end to the activity.
6. Camps There are tons of camps out there. Many colleges offer great educational camps in the summer. It’s great because you can pick one your child really loves or one that he needs a little extra help in to give him an extra boost. My son has been to a math and robotic camp for the last couple of years and he loves it. Just go to a nearby college’s website and you should be able to find all the information you need. You can also do music, drama, and art camps that will challenge your child in different ways.
There are lots of ways to keep your child challenged. Picking a couple of different things can help a child in school and they won’t even realize they’re learning!
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