When children are not mentally stimulated and engaged over the summer months, their minds may experience a decrease in mental engagement and intellectual growth. Here are some potential effects:
- They may experience learning loss: Without consistent mental stimulation, children may experience a phenomenon known as “summer learning loss” or “summer slide.” This refers to the regression or decline in academic skills and knowledge over the summer break due to lack of mental engagement. Subjects like math, reading, and writing may be particularly affected. Play math and reading games with your kids to keep their minds sharp. Have them work out the finances the next time you go grocery shopping. Or, simply download some printable worksheet online and have them practice, but be prepared to offer them a reward for doing the “extra” work outside of school!
- Reduced cognitive development: Mental stimulation is essential for cognitive development at any age. Without regular engagement in challenging activities, problem-solving skills, critical thinking abilities, and creativity may suffer. This is where nature hikes can have a huge impact. The next time you decide to go out on a nature hike, make it a scavenger hunt and have your kids find and describe certain plants, insects, marine life, etc…This will keep their minds active and can be a ton of fun for the entire family!
- They may get limited exposure to new experiences: Being home alone and playing electronics all day is not something any parent want to see their child doing all summer. Summer Camps can be an ideal time for children to explore new activities, learn new hobbies, and build specific interests. Without stimulation, they may miss out on valuable opportunities to broaden their horizons, develop new skills, and discover new passions.
- Decreased social interaction: Summer offers a break from the structured social environment of school. However, if children are not engaged in social activities or interacting with peers during the summer, they may experience a decrease in social skills, communication abilities, and the opportunity for meaningful social connections. Make park days a normal part of your summer weekdays!
- Impact on mental health: Lack of mental stimulation and social interaction can also contribute to feelings of boredom, loneliness, and isolation, which may negatively impact a child’s mental well-being. We are all social creatures by nature and need interaction with others in order to thrive. Get out of the house, play outdoors and visit areas where you can interact with other people on a regular basis.
Don’t let the summer slide hit your family this year! Encourage your children to stay mentally engaged during the summer and offer them fun activities that they can do to keep their minds sharp. Take a trip to the library for a special reading from mother goose, engaging in educational programs or classes at your local community college and recreational centers, pursuing new and fun hobbies, register your kids for active summer camps or workshops, and maintaining a balanced schedule that includes physical exercise and social interaction throughout those hot summer months.