Transitioning kids from summer fun to a school year structure does not have to be difficult! With the anticipation of a new school year comes the rites of passage that go along with stepping up a grade, or walking into a new class or school, or perhaps even starting school for the first time ever. So often, we focus on the ceremony of shopping for a new wardrobe, backpack, binders and markers, but we forget that we should spend some time acclimating our kids' minds for the classroom environment.
This doesn't mean we should hold mock school sessions at home for a month prior to the first day of school; we can ease their minds into 'school mode' without them even realizing it. You simply have to prepare a little and before you know it, you'll be slipping lessons into your everyday functions and passing them off as mere fun! Isn't it a delicious thought to be able to fool your kids into learning something? Well, it might be way easier than you thought possible.
The three most important things to remember are:
- Make it fun!
- Make it Fun!!
- Make it FUN!!!
The fourth thing … dab their baby toe in first ... ease them back in ~ and yes, MAKE IT FUN!
Below are some
brain exercises for every age group.
- A trip to the ice cream stand(!) … or their favorite restaurant! … Woo-Hoo! … hold on, there is one caveat: everyone must only use their non-dominant hand (if you are right-handed, you must eat with your left hand and vice-versa).
- Folks at your neighboring tables might think you are nuts; however, those with kids will thank you when you explain what you are doing.
Benefit: This is a great exercise to engage both sides of the brain to get them working together.
- Of course, most tweens will also enjoy a trip to the ice cream stand or their favorite restaurant to eat with their non-dominant hand. However, we might need something a bit more challenging at this age level.
- If that is the case, play some fun word games with them to get their brain juices flowing. For instance, have them try to say their name backwards, then have them spell it backwards. Still using their name as the template for brain engaging fun, challenge them to hold an entire conversation over dinner while beginning every sentence with a word that begins with the first letter of their first name. For example, Debbie must try to begin every sentence with a word that starts with the letter ‘D’ … Do you understand what I mean? Did you try it yet? Don’t knock it till you try it. Difficult, huh?
- Benefit: Nurtures creativity and independent thinking skills.
- This one might take a little homework on your part; however, like most activities involving our kids, the older they are, the more involved it typically becomes. Focus on something that your child is really into … music, reading, sports, etc. Research the newest/latest happenings which revolve around that particular subject and start asking them questions about it. For instance, if your kid loves baseball, identify his/her favorite players, ask them to recite their stats (RBI’s, ERA’s, number of home-runs) for the current season; if they are not a rookie, how do their current stats measure up to last season? What is their team’s current record; wins, losses, ties, and placement in the league. Quiz them on these stats. Same for music; pick a favorite singer or band, and their newest album; name all the songs on the CD; which were hits? Do they know their placement on the charts?
Benefit: Gently wakes up the sleepy-summer brain, and gets your kid thinking again.
These might seem like rather ‘mindless’ exercises; however, the goal is to get creative juices flowing to encourage their own individual learning styles. There is no better way to do that than to appeal to them with something that lights up their eyes, and to do so in a comfortable environment. Remember, you’ve got to keep their head in the game, or it won’t do any good.
Although there are many benefits to each of the examples above, the byproduct is that you will be spending top-quality time with your child. Keep in mind that free creative playtime is a great way to learn what is in your kid’s head and heart, no matter how old they are! ... BONUS!
By Debbie Mancini-Wilson
Debbie hosts creativity workshops for children and adults using materials from her recent book Color My World and currently has a tv show in production which focuses on lifestyle and family issues. Debbie strongly believes that life is enriched by making the most of what you have, by living in gratitude, by paying it forward ... and of course, by nurturing your inner child's creativity! www.colormyworld.info
By Debbie Mancini-Wilson
CBS & NBC Family Creativity Expert