When the temperatures soar, the last thing students want to do is think about school.  But if your middle school student is serious about maintaining good grades and eventually going to a good college, he or she has to keep that educational edge during the vacation months.

Studies show that students lose up to three months of academic progress during the summer, a phenomenon called “Summer Slide.”

But forget about slaving over boring books or memorizing dry flash cards.  There are less burdensome ways for your child to stay ahead of the game.  The key is engaging their brains. Here are some novel projects you can do with your pre-teens to keep their academic skills sharp for the coming school year:

Write Something

The regular practice of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) will boost literary proficiency.  Starting a journal is a good idea, but also consider –

1. Creating a comic strip.  Be creative, and think up some characters and situations to put them in.  Try to produce one strip a week to distribute to family and friends.  Visit this site for help – http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/

2. Writing a script for your favorite TV show or a TV show you make up yourself.  Conjure up dialogue for an episode of “Gossip Girl,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” or “Modern Family.”  Or write dialogue based on your own family or friends.

3. Developing a blog.  A blog is simply a regular, written record of your thoughts and opinions on anything – it’s just written online.  Find some ideas at – http://make-website.com/netkids/kids-make-a-free-website.php

4. Communicating by snail mail. Composing letters is a lost art.  But writing letters by hand helps you better focus your thoughts.  You can’t cut and paste at will, and so you have to get it right the first time.

To whom can you write?  Rihanna, New Direction, The CEO of Forever 21 retail stores, the manager of the local McDonald’s.  Use Google to find addresses.

Make or Start Something

Following the steps to make or build something is a good way to keep your thinking sharp.  Cooking is an easy way to do it, but also try:

5. Building a robot.  Here’s how: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcIiINAPpe4

(you can buy a cheap parts at an electronics store, like Fry’s.)

6. Making craft or science projects.  http://www.kidsmakestuff.com/

7. Launching a business. http://www.momeomagazine.com/raising-entrepreneurial-kids-9-quick-start-businesses-for-your-budding-entrepreneur/

Go Somewhere

Encountering new places, especially ones where you can learn something new, helps work your brain muscle.

8. Visiting museums.  Plan a day trip to San Francisco, and remember to go on the day of the month when a museum is free (see http://sanfrancisco.about.com/od/museums/ss/freemuseumdays.htm)

9.Taking a free tour.  While you’re in San Francisco, check out these cool tours:  http://www.sfcityguides.org/descriptions_table.html

Read Something (Interesting). 

10. Getting a library card.  This is a no-brainer, and your children probably already has one.  But you can assure them that reading doesn’t have to be boring.  Check out the local library and explore the possibilities. Comic books, magazines and TV show websites are all fair game.  Just try to do it everyday.

Your brain is just like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.  And taking time off for the summer weakens academically.  The trick is to keep busy with activities that make you think.

 

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