How to keep your child's brain active over the summer holidays

It's a no-brainer: children who keep their minds busy over the school holiday transition better into a new key stage. Educationalist Mike Gershon has ten ace ways to keep your kids switched on over the summer break 

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1. Daily challenges, big and small

At the start of the summer break, sit down with your child and come up with a challenge for every day. Some might reinforce their school learning, but include fun and silly challenges, too. Write them on little pieces of paper and scrunch them up - then pick a random challenge each day!

2. Do a Samuel Pepys 

How about creating a summer holiday diary, which you and your child can update together? You could make it a scrapbook and include drawings, photos, and tickets from trips as well as written accounts. Or strike out into fiction, and challenge your child to write a weekly story to share with you. 

3. Give their inner bookworm room to wiggle

Reading is good, we all know that - but it can be a bit of a struggle helping a reluctant reader see that. For competitive kids, setting targets can help - try the Summer Reading Challenge. And reading together, taking turns, can add another dimension, which brings us onto...  

4. Do your bit to keep the art of conversation alive

It can be surprisingly difficult to fit in during term-time, but a good old natter helps support all kinds of skills. Discussing ideas, asking questions, engaging in relaxed debate - all of this stimulates your child's thinking and develops their language development.  

5. Have a change of scene

There are so many places you can go where learning happens simply by... showing up. For a more ambitious day, you might go on a sightseeing tour, or visit a museum or gallery - but even a trip to the park or a walk around town can provide fodder for interesting adventures and discoveries. 

6. Go for green fingers and muddy hands

Get out in the garden - or, if you don't have one, create a box for the window ledge. Plant sunflower seeds and see whose grows the tallest, paint faces on egg shells and grow cress heads, or nurture a tomato plant and watch it grow fruit. Research the best way to care for your plants, and record their growth. 

7. Play the fool

When your child is telling you something or explaining an idea, try acting like you just don't get it, and ask them to explain. Not only will this be an amusing game for you (and them, if you ham it up a bit so they know what's going on), it'll make them articulate their ideas in more detail and more carefully. 

8. Let them be Quizmaster General

Children love testing their parents, right? Get your child to create a quiz in which you and your partner or friend can compete for a top prize. Your young quizmaster can write a series of 'really hard' questions and answers - inadvertently learning as they go. 

9. Curate the world 

Ask your child to pick a topic that excites them - then set about building a museum based on that theme. Do they love science? Explore your home - or the park if you fancy getting outside - to find some top (Key Stage Two) 'exhibits'. Some ice for 'Changing States of Matter', anyone?

10. Create something... anything! 

A model, a picture, a game, a story or a dance routine - whatever works. Foster an atmosphere of 'anything goes' - mistakes and challenges are all part of the creative process! 

For more ways to get your child ready for the new school year, have a look at TES's parents' page - packed with tips and resources. 

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Last updated: 5 months ago