While August is still a vacation from school for many families, it does signal the beginning of the close of summer, and the approach to the back to school season. Whether our little ones will be back in school, online for their education, or somewhere in the middle, it will look different this year. As families begin to prepare for the new school year, one challenge remains the same, how to help kids re-engage with an educational environment, refamiliarize themselves with material they learned last year, and return to routine. For some with preschoolers or kindergarteners, it is time to get them ready for a classroom at a school or online. No matter what back-to-school looks like this year, adults everywhere know the big struggle to get kids re-engaged with learning after the summer break.
At Stretch-n-Grow, health means mental and physical well-being, so exploring ways to learn as well as stay active is very important. Games can be a good way to make those key mind-body connections, and make learning fun.
–The Mind-Body Connection Game: This activity is great for little ones who are still learning how to navigate the world around them. It is a simple activity, but it helps children gain control of key motor skills and use their muscles intentionally. Challenge your kids to move their bodies in unique ways. They could alternate between using their dominant and nondominant hand to complete a simple task. Do a balancing exercise. Look up some coordination activities like rubbing their belly and patting their head, and do it with them. Integrate these with another physical activity or craft and help your children make new connections.
–Memory games: This one can be adapted for kids of all ages. For older ones, make flashcards with history facts or multiplication tables. If they are preschoolers, have objects and ask them to remember the object and the color. Come up with age-appropriate exercise patterns for them to try. Memorization improves a function of the brain called neural plasticity – a big concept that means, “the ability of the brain to form and reorganize…especially in response to learning or following injury.” In other words, the brain learns better and heals better. Find fun ways to memorize important concepts!
–Puzzle Games: Puzzles are a great challenge for kids and can help them grow cognitively in many ways. Concentration, spatial awareness, and language are just a few of the areas of knowledge that puzzles can improve. Whether you purchase a few from the store, or you make a few from construction paper, get kids putting puzzles together. For an added challenge, hide the puzzle pieces in the house, and make it a scavenger hunt. Try origami with older children.
Get the brain engaged and the body moving in preparation for a new school year, no matter what that looks like, and make learning fun.
What games do you like to play to get kids thinking and moving?
By: Bethany Verrett