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Thursday, August 12, 2010


Transitioning kids from summer fun to a school-year structure does not have to be difficult!

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 ~ and yes, MAKE IT FUN!

Below are some quirky yet entertaining brain exercises for every age group.

Young kids:
A trip to the ice cream stand(!) … or their favorite restaurant! … Woo-Hoo! … 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.

Teens/Young Adults:
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. For instance, if your kid loves baseball, name his/her favorite players, 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? Or their team’s 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 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!

Debbie Mancini-Wilson is the resident Family Creativity Expert for CBS and NBC morning shows, and Author of the Best-Seller, 'Color My World' I demonstrate ways for parents to accomplish productive goals while having fun with their kids!


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