Ready to Learn: Tricks to Keep Kids Thinking Sharp Over the Summer

by Rick and Teena Kamal

Studies show that many kids forget two months of what they have learned in school over thescience kid summer. You don't want your kids spending a big part of next school year re-learning what they have forgotten, so how do you keep them in learning mode?

Staying sharp academically over the summer doesn’t have to be a grueling process. Helping your child to keep learning can be fun, for parents and kids alike. In our research, we have found many summer enrichment activities and strategies you can do together. Here are a few tips:

1. Schedule summer enrichment activities: Most people don't realize the brain is like a muscle; if you don't exercise it, it gets weak. If you just spend five focused hours a week with your child, you can help her be prepared for a great school year to come. Make a schedule — set aside those five hours each week and block them off for specific activities. You're 15 times more likely to do it if you put it on the calendar than if you don't.

2. Participate with your child in activities that keep the brain active. You can do science activities at home using materials we all have around the house. Here are a few:

  • Make invisible ink. Just take some lemon juice and a cotton swab and have them write on a piece of paper. An hour later put in front of a bright light. It will warm up and become visible. The kids may ask, will this work with a lime? Will this work with an orange? Can I put it in the freezer? Ask them questions and encourage them to experiment.
  • Try mixing oil and water in a clear plastic water bottle. Ask your child, “no matter how hard you shake can you mix them? Or not? Why? What if you try with different liquids?” This gets kids to start thinking about liquid, density and other questions associated with science.
  • Take an ordinary plastic straw and have your child try to stick it in a potato. It won't work. Now have him take the same straw and put his finger over the other end and try it again. It goes right in. Why? This is a good trick to begin learning about air pressure.

3. Get Kids Reading: Encourage your child to read at least an hour each day by offering him reading materials directly related to his interests and appropriate for his reading level. Engage kids in activities such as summer reading programs for young children at the library. These programs often feature crafts, puppets, singing, and other such activities that help your child associate reading with having fun.

When planning a summer learning program, be sure to adapt it to her interests and make it as fun as possible! It shouldn’t feel like work. It’s also important to leave plenty of time for rest and leisure as well, so that your child returns to school feeling reinvigorated and ready for another year of academic success.

About the Authors:

Award-winning study and life skills experts Rick and Teena Kamal founded EduNova to prepare students to lead and thrive in the global economy. They worked with 33 top university education experts and many successful senior executives to produce resources that empower middle school, high school and college students to succeed. Learn more at