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Stop Summer Brain Drain: 10 Everyday Ways to Stay Sharp

To help students stay fresh without feeling like they are still in school, here are 10 suggestions for how to sneak in a little learning into daily activities.
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For every student counting down to or embracing the start of the beloved lazy days, there's a teacher and parent worrying about the notorious summer brain drain. And while as educators we know how vital it is for kids to maintain learning through the break, we also understand how important it is for students to decompress from a stressful school year. To help students stay fresh without feeling like they are still in school, here are 10 suggestions for how to sneak in a little learning into daily activities.

1. Numbers and words with friends. Students are spending a ton of time with technology. Encourage them to play vocabulary or math skills games with friends.

2. Visit museums. Cultural centers often have wonderful exhibits and summer programs for kids. Have your child research and pick a day-trip of the week (or month).

3. Swap and trade. Challenge kids with a daily math problem. Have siblings or friends text math problems that they come up with for the other to solve. They'll be busy trying to stump each other while practicing math.

4. Watch Jeopardy. Dedicate a night a week for Jeopardy. Participate in the game with homemade buzzers.

5. Write a review. It's empowering for kids to be able to share their opinions. Have your child write a review for the books he reads over the summer. Post the review on online book sites and get excited when other readers find the review helpful!

6. Go on tours. Whether furniture or a chocolate factory, take the chance to explore how things are made.

7. Speak fluently. Practice makes perfect when it comes to foreign language. Bring your child to a restaurant that has menus in different languages. Challenge her to read and order in the foreign language she's learning in school.

8. Be a critic. Upgrade family movie night by inviting your child to critique the movie you've watched. Encourage him to read other critics and learn the style of commentary.

9. Stop and brainstorm. When you're driving or walking down a street, every time you come to a stop at a red light, come up with as many words as you can to rhyme with the name of the street. Or if the streets are numbered then add, multiply, or subtract the digits.

10. Wikipedia challenge. Who shares your name? Wikipedia it and dig deeper to learn more. You can find historical figures with your name, or even cities and civilizations that shared your name. Follow back links as topics interest you and see where they take you.

Summer is a great time to turn learning into a game. In addition to our tips, think about how daily activities can be turned into mini review sessions so that students feel ready to tackle next year's challenges.

Alexandra Mayzler is the founder of Thinking Caps Group. She is the author of several books including SAT Demystified and Tutor in a Book. Alexandra lives in New York and spends her free time thinking about how to make studying easier, more interesting, and above all, enjoyable for her students.

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