8 creative ways to beat summer brain drain in Chicago

Before the school year ended I attempted to think about low cost and fun things to do with my son. This involves spending time outside but also activities that keep him engaged even though he’s not in the classroom. I’ve heard so much about summer brain drain that I wanted to make sure we mixed fun with learning. Here are some creative ways I came up with to keep him ready all summer long.

Twist and shout

The Square Roots Festival is the perfect opportunity for your family to see music and dance traditions of cultures from around the world. Some of the activities include a West African dance class, the Midwest fiddle championship and dining on locally sourced foods. The festival takes place in the Lincoln Square neighborhood July 11-13.

Reading is fundamental

This summer the Chicago Public Library is hosting Rahm’s Readers, encouraging youth to read at least 20 minutes each day and participate in interactive activities such as trips to museums or zoos. Our local library’s reading program includes prizes for reading a certain number of books before the end of the summer.

Science at home

This is our second year participating in the Summer Brain Games with the Museum of Science and Industry. This summer we will explore the science behind popular carnival games and activities, and recreate them in our backyard. If you register for Summer Brain Games you also get a voucher for admission to the Museum!

Grow a garden

It’s not too late to plant vegetables or flowers. I recently purchased some green bean seedlings for my son to care for. I think it’s important for him to know that food doesn’t magically appear at the grocery store and that farmers work really hard to grow our food.

Write about it

I have quite a few friends who have children who have their own blogs. I think it’s a great way to develop writing and computer skills. However, if that’s not a good fit for your family, Mead makes a great composition notebook that also has space for illustrations. I’ve found them online and at my local dollar store.

More than a vacation

When was the last time you’ve looked at or even saw a paper map? Now may be a fun time to look at one if your family is planning any trips this summer. Have your child plot out your next trip and make note of any landmarks or bodies of water along the way. You can make it more interesting by having them calculate the mileage and gas needed to make the trip.

Junior chefs

I’ll admit that sometimes when I’m cooking the thought of having my son help me sounds like a disaster. Then I remember that one day he will have to cook for himself and it’s a fun way for him to learn math and science. Williams Sonoma is offering free cooking classes every Saturday in July for ages 5 and up. In these classes he’ll learn how to make pies and great summer salads. Sounds delicious!

Mini moguls

Last summer my son and one of his friends got really creative during a trip to a local park. They were shocked to learn that I didn’t have any cash on me when the ice cream truck came around and decided to raise their own funds. They made a sign and began selling pine cones to parents in the park. Granted they only raised 50 cents but I couldn’t help but smile because they created a solution to a problem. Whether doing yard work, babysitting or selling cold refreshments in front of your home, the summer is the perfect time to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in your child.

What are some ways your family is beating summer brain drain?

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