Playtime is just as important as classroom time. Researchers have found that play improves memory and encourages the growth of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain associated with perception and reasoning.

If you find the right summer activities for families, your child will continue to learn while on academic vacation and avoid the dreaded summer slide. Here are 10 ways you can help your family switch from summer mode before the first day of school.

Take Control of Time

  • Get back to a regular bedtime. It could take 2-3 weeks to readjust to schedule.
  • Re-establish morning routines. Use visual charts to guide children through morning grooming and chores. Make sure everything they need is easy to find for a stress-free day.

Get Ready to Work

  • Help your child come up with goals for the school year. Goals, like making the honor roll, joining clubs for increased social interactions, or running for a student leadership position, can help motivate your child to reach outside of their comfort zone.
  • Prepare your home for the demands of another school year. Have backpacks, lunch kits, and sweaters ready in a central location. Get your child’s homework area ready too. A quiet, well-lit place to study will reduce distractions.
  • Re-establish order. What is expected on school days? When and where will homework be completed? What chores need to be done before your child can enjoy the free time? Discuss after-school activities, transportation to and from school, curfews, visiting friends, or any other issues related to maintaining academic focus outside of school hours.
  • Flip flops and cut-offs may be the official uniform for summer, but don’t make the grade for most dress codes. Get your child’s school wardrobe ready to help them dress for success.

Learning Fun in the Summer Sun

  • If your child found a hobby or learned skill during the break that they really enjoy, make it part of their back-to-school routine. After-school music lessons and dance classes keep children motivated to do their best in all aspects of life. School clubs and teams are another way to indulge your child’s interest.
  • Wake up lazy brains with creative learning summer activities for families. Use a nature guide to identify different species of birds or plants during a family nature hike or try some informal physics experiments to spark their interest and get them excited about learning.

The Final Countdown

  • Send your summer off with a blast! Take a trip before the new school year starts. Whether you choose an epic road trip or a quiet weekend camping in the woods, give your children one last chance to taste the full sweetness of summer.
  • Take a test run. This is especially important for those attending new schools and visually-inclined autistic students. Drive to the school. Find classrooms, bathrooms, lockers, offices, and libraries.

Boost your child’s chances for academic success with these summer activities for families. Your family will be relaxed, happy, and ready to face the new school year.

Anthony Cupo is a Trained Mindfulness Facilitator (TMF) from the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is a co-owner of Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC and has been meditating for over 30 years.

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