By Karen Cortes
Special to CTLatinoNews.com
School is out for summer and it’s time for lazy mornings, hazy days, and nowhere to go (well, for the kids). It’s not hard to slip into day after day of sleeping late, relaxing in the sunshine, followed by a marginally nutritious hot dog dinner.
While summer should be a time to get up, get out and grow, Latino kids will be at a greater risk for brain drain and weight gain when the school year ends. Research shows that without activities to keep their minds and bodies active, kids are likely to gain weight twice as fast and show little to no academic growth– some losing one to two months of grade level equivalency– over the summer.
Research also demonstrates marked gains in cognitive and affective achievement for students as a whole when they participate in learning outside the classroom.
Here are six ideas to help families combat summer brain drain and weight gain:
1. Give your kids a jump rope. It’s an awesome way to have fun and keep moving. They can go solo or get others in on the fun. Commit to healthy living by keeping the bodies and minds in your home active this summer.
2. Send your kids to camp. It’s an effective bridge for youth development from school year to school year. Campers are encouraged to explore, discover, and learn in the out-of-doors, nurtured by positive role models.
3. Visit your local library. Explore new books you and your kids may have missed to keep your mind sharp during summer.
4. Have a family outing at your local park to get your heart pumping before evening meals. Play ball, run or create an obstacle course by using equipment in the park. Take turns letting everyone in your family make up something and have fun!
5. Take a walking staycation. Map out a new neighborhood or hiking trail in your area and get your family to explore on foot. It’s a great way to make Saturday a healthy, active start to the weekend.
6. Start a book series and read together each night as a family. Reading at night keeps the brain buzzing and young minds active.
Keeping kids healthy and active requires planning and preparation. Start thinking now about what your kids will need to grow and achieve all summer long!
(Photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr)