Five Simple Activities For Summer That Keep The Brain Challenged

The brain is not meant to stop learning over the summer—in fact, studies show that when school closes during the summer break, students’ brains can actually lose information acquired during the school year.

And to make matters worse, after a period of time spend not actively learning, it takes much longer to get the brain back into the momentum of learning, which means students actually start the fall off further behind than where they left off in June.

Luckily, this backward momentum is easily avoided with some simple summer activities that combine fun with a little mental stimulation.

Here are five simple summer activities that keep the brain challenged:

Play a New Board Game. Not just for rainy afternoons inside, board games are actually great learning tools.  They help kids develop broader thinking abilities such as strategy, planning, and action-consequence relationships. Try out a new game and learn the rules together, rather than playing from the familiar rules of a favourite game.

Keep a Journal. Start a journal this summer to write down daily thoughts, fun and exciting events, and observations about daily life.  Or, try writing a short story, a little bit at a time. You can even have multiple people contribute to the plot. At the end of the summer students will be left with a great memento, and stronger writing skills!

Solve a Puzzle. Like board games, puzzles are great downtime activities that keep the brain challenged. Whether playing Sudoku, Crosswords, search-a-words, or the traditional jigsaw variety, puzzles are a fun way to challenge the mind and learn skills such as persistence and problem solving.

Pick up a Controller. Despite the propensity for kids to zone out and disengage for hours at a time, there is actually a lot going on cognitively when playing video games.  Studies have shown that game play can improve hand-eye coordination, problem-solving abilities, and even grown certain areas in the brain. Like board games, invest in a new game (or borrow one) to ensure kids’ grey matter is being extra challenged.

Read. The simplest way to ensure that the cerebellum is firing on all cylinders this summer is by reading. The act of reading activates certain parts of the brain (language), which keep those areas growing. Any reading works—comic books, novels, non-fiction, magazines, blogs… they all help build vocabulary and keep the brain stimulated. Plus, reading can easily go everywhere you do, no controllers, patch cords, outlets, or batteries necessary.

Oxford Learning provides supplemental education services across North America. It offers programs for young people from preschool through university, and its cognitive approach goes beyond tutoring to ignite a lifelong love of learning. Find out more at http://www.OxfordLearning.com.

About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.


  1. Eric Bowden says

    Great tips there. When I was younger the local library had a reading program that gave out prizes for the kids who read the most books over the course of the summer. Adding the competitive game element to the act of reading helped keep me motivated, and I’m still an avid reader (who believes that learning never ends) to this very day. Keeping kids’ minds active is just as important as keeping them physically active!