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It Takes a Village: Keeping Kids' Minds Sharp Over the Summer

Three Village moms share how hey keep their kids learning all summer long while still having fun.

Whether it's a beach day at West Meadow, a fun filled day at a local camp, a lazy day relaxing by the pool or a day spent with friends at a local playground, summer in Three Village offers kids of all ages so many fun ways to spend their days. But local parents say it is important that children still participate in educational activities so that they are prepared for the new school year in September – which is less than a month away.

Stacey Devaux of Port Jefferson recently turned a day at the beach into a science lesson. After a day at West Meadow Beach exploring for crabs, she and her six-year-old daughter Kayla went home to research and discover new things abut crabs.

Devaux added, “Kayla's journal keeps her writing just plenty! She writes about her activities every day!”

Just by taking a few minutes each day, Devaux said Kayla is reflecting on her activities of the day and she is also reinforcing the reading and writing skills that are so developmentally appropriate at this age.

Jennifer Sloat, editor of Kings Park Patch and a Stony Brook resident, said her family likes to take the month of July to relax, goof off and sleep late. "I think this is important too," she said. "The school year for most kids and parents is over scheduled with activities [and] sports topped with school work demands."

But around this time of the summer, she said, "brain drain starts to creep in and we look for things to do." That's why her family signs up for the summer reading program at the library each year.

Her family also likes to use vacations as an opportunity to learn. This summer they visited Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, where they researched when their grandparents arrived and learned what it meant to be an immigrant.  

Children always learn best when they are "doing", when they are an active participant in the activity so that is why it is so easy to turn a fun filled day at the beach or a family vacation into a learning experience for all. 

In my own house, I also believe in reviewing the basic skills that all children need as they prepare to enter a new school year. There are many ways that parents can successfully do this at home and at a very minimal cost. My husband – the numbers person in our family – makes math worksheets of problems that are age appropriate and the kids enjoy trying to beat their score from the last time.

Dana Powell of East Setauket brings her kids to Barnes and Noble and together they choose age appropriate/grade level workbooks.

“The kids earn reward tickets for exercising their bodies and minds and they can use the points for electronic time, purchases and play-dates,” Powell said.

The workbooks provide review in all subject areas. For younger children the books contain stickers that can be used after a successful completion of the page – and this is all the incentive my kids need to do a great job.

Do you have a fun, creative at home activity you do to help your child prepare for September?  Leave us a comment and let us know.

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