7 Ways to Keep Your Kids’ Brains from Turning to Mush This Summer
As a great educational theorist once observed, when released each summer from the rigorous oversight of academic professionals, children often abandon such fundamentals as the use of writing implements and reading of scholarly tomes.
Actually, the original statement looked more like this:
Numerous studies show that when school’s out for summer, kids’ brains start to drain. When the next academic year starts, they often spend a month or more catching up to where they were when vacation began.
Here’s where the current generation’s obsession with digital devices can work in your favor. Obviously you don’t want them spending all summer with their eyeballs glued to a screen. They should be out in the fresh air running, swimming, and getting sweaty (don’t forget the sunscreen). But by combining the real world around them with the virtual world of devices, you can engage children’s brains and bodies at the same time.
“Parents need to recognize that technological devices are also part of the real world,” notes Cynthia Baron, a professor of digital media at Northeastern University in Boston. “They need to look for ways for children to use phones and tablets for active learning and positive socializing instead of passive viewing or endless texting.”
I asked a bunch of smart people how to use tech to keep kids’ minds from melting like a snow cone on a hot August night. They gave me more ideas than I could possibly fit in one column, but here are some of the best:
1. Seed the need to read.
Obviously, the top priority for parents each summer is to get their kids to read more. One of the best ways to do that is to remove dead trees from the equation. Early readers will appreciate digital storybook apps like Speakaboos and MeeGenius, suggests Nancy MacIntyre, CEO of Fingerprint Digital, a mobile learning and play network. These clever apps employ narration, pictures, and songs to help youngsters develop language skills while being entertained.
If you’ve got a tween or teen, buy her a subscription to Scribd. For $9 a month, you gain access to a library of more than 400,000 titles, many of them children’s and young-adult classics like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and the Lemony Snicket series. You can read them online or download up to 10 of them at a time to any phone, tablet, or ebook reader. Scribd offers a free one-month trial; click here for a special promo code (available only to Yahoo Tech readers) to bump that to three months.