Having a summer vacation is a healthy chance for children to take a break from the routine of spending their days in the classroom, and it's an excellent opportunity for them to spend time being active outside when the weather is nice. One of the drawbacks of summer vacation, however, is "brain drain."

Children's academic and learning skills can get rusty during the summer, which can make for a difficult transition when school resumes in the fall. Did you know that, on average, teachers must spend six weeks of every fall helping students re-learn old material that they forgot during the summer months?

If you have a child who is school age, and you want to make sure his or her brain stays sharp during the summer, check out the list of ideas below. These stimulating activities will ensure that the summer is a time for both fun and games — and learning  for everyone involved.

Library.jpgMake the library a regular stop

To keep kids' reading skills up to snuff, make your local public library a weekly stop. Find out if the library hosts story time for younger kids and go to it, or allow older children to pick out several books that they can read during the week. Many libraries offer programs specifically designed to promote reading during the summer months. 

Library time is a great way to ensure that students' reading levels don't slip while not in class!

Try learning apps

Yes, electronic devices can play a positive role in children's summer vacations. There are multiple apps for smartphones and tablets that are fun for kids and help them stay sharp when not in school. One of the best apps for keeping math skills sharp is called Mathmateer, where kids complete math challenges in order to launch a rocket ship into space. Another popular option is Stack the States, which is a geography app to help kids learn more about the map of the United States. The Internet is full of resources that can direct parents to other choices, as well.

Start a lemonade stand

From the latest apps to ... lemonade stands? This old-school summer activity is a great way for kids to meet neighbors, enjoy a sweet treat and make a little spending money. It's also a great way for kids to use and practice their math skills, since across the board, students tend to lose 2.6 months of math skills while school's not in session. Host a lemonade stand, then have your kids total the earnings at the end. A lemonade stand helps with addition skills, and also encourages an entrepreneurial spirit.

Summer field trips

Make it a point to schedule trips to the educational and cultural attractions in your area zoos, natural history museums, cultural history museums, art museums, aquariums and more. These institutions provide immersive, hands-on experiences so kids don't get bored, and they also present opportunities to learn about a wide range of subjects. You might even consider preparing a few questions related to the material inside the institution you're visiting to spark some conversation during the trip.

Do science projects

Each summer vacation delivers its share of rainy days. These are perfect opportunities to keep your child's science skills sharp by doing at-home science projects that are both fun and informative. Some fun projects to do include creating a "color symphony" by adding different colors of food coloring to a tray of whole milk and liquid dish soap, making rock candy, or getting a paper clip to float.

Those are just a few of the ways parents can ensure that children have a happy and fun summer, without "brain drain!" See more tips from Meg Knapik, our math specialist, who recently spoke on Fox 32 about this subject:

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