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Keeping the Brain Busy

Many students want to turn their brains off for the summer after a long school year. Yet, the brain is a muscle that needs to stay limber in order to function most effectively. So, here are some ways students can keep their brains ready for the upcoming academic year while also having fun:

Read. Encourage your student to pick one or two books that she'll work on during the summer. Getting in the reading habit now will make consuming all those assignments during the school year much easier.

Write. Jotting thoughts in a journal, writing a letter, submitting an opinion piece to the local paper… all keep the writing muscles loose and ready!

Learn New Things. Maybe that means turning on National Public Radio in the morning, listening to podcasts like "Stuff You Missed in History Class" (from, picking up a news magazine, listening to books on tape during car commutes or taking free one-shot classes at the local library. There are so many ways to learn!

Memory Recall. Work with your student on memory exercises, like remembering people's names after a large gathering or describing what is on the table when you're not looking at it. These mini-workouts get you in the memory recall habit, which can come in very handy during the academic year when studying and then applying information to exams.

Share. Sometimes the way to recognize that we're learning is to verbalize it out loud. So, consider putting in place some ways you and your student can share what it is that your brains are up to this summer! It might just be sharing a new tidbit of information at the dinner table or getting in the weekly habit of sharing "five things I learned this week" with one another.

Encourage your student to stretch his brain this summer! As a result, he'll be better able to dig into the academic life this fall.

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