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Keeping the brain ticking over in the summer break

Updated: Jan 8


The long summer holidays are nearly here – children are already counting how many ‘sleeps’ left until the end of term. Whilst the summer break is a great opportunity for quality family time, it is also an ideal time to explore hobbies and interests that get squeezed out in the frenetic pace of term time life. And whilst 8 weeks away from the classroom might sound appealing to some children, both parents and educationalists know that taking your eye off the academic ball for this length of time can be detrimental to a child’s learning. So, the question is how can you keep your children’s brains and minds ticking over so they are not losing ground over the break and will be able to slot back into the academic groove more easily in September? Here are some of our top tips to enjoy the summer but keep your child’s cognitive skills alive and kicking!

1. Good old fashioned games ​

Some of the simple pleasures which parents may recall from their own childhood are actually great ways of practicing academic skills in a different way. Remember playing card or board games such as Monopoly and Risk? Well, it turns out that these good old fashioned games are also great for teaching skills such as counting, problem solving, strategy and memory.

2. Any one for Beach Cricket?

Not all games have to be inside, playing beach cricket or a game of rounders not only keeps you fit, but also teaches numeracy skills and team working. If you want to teach your children about strategy then a game of ‘Capture the Flag’ will require them to come up with a plan, allocate roles to the team and work out how to defeat the opposition.

3. Harness the tech!

If you are looking for games that are more techy but still educational then download Sporcle. The app has a fantastic range of quizzes on every subject under the sun, everyone can play together trying to beat the clock. Who knew that matching flags to countries or naming capital cities could be so much fun! Or approach it from the other angle and get the children to create their own quizzes on Kahoot and let them test out your knowledge.

4. Visit a Museum

Persevere through any resistance and take the children round a museum or gallery and give them an opportunity to be immersed in a different time and culture. The wonderful ‘mummies’ in the British Museum are a must for any child who has studied the Egyptians. Or head to the National Gallery in any capital city to get a taste of the art and culture of the country.

Top tip for visiting a Gallery with children - pick 4 paintings or objects and make a bee line for them, spend time looking at them in some detail – get the children to see if they can make out what the story is by looking for the small things. Or pick a theme such as dragons or angels and then see how many paintings the children can spot with a dragon or angel in it. Most visitor attractions have really engaging activity trails for a whole range of ages.

5. Keep up with key skills

Alongside the subliminal learning it can also be useful to focus on a few key skills over the holidays. For younger children using the Bond books can be a good way of keeping their hand in with verbal and non verbal reasoning skills.

For older children it is worth exploring online learning opportunities like Coursera – taking an online module provided by a good university can be both intellectually stimulating and give a student a chance to either explore a completely new topic or to support in more detail something they have been learning about at school. The added advantage is that this work can attract credits and is definitely a plus point when writing a university application.

6. Take a summer course

If studying in the holidays in the home environment seems too much like hard work, then it is worth looking at the huge range of summer programmes that are available. There is so much on offer with everything from improving English language skills, to taking a pre University course in something like Psychology or Business Studies. Whether you want to take a Master Class in Chemistry or practice for a Maths Olympiad then Carfax Education can help. Check out our Summer School programmes here in the UAE. If you are heading to Europe then we can help you find summer schools there too!

7. Learn a new skill

The long summer is an ideal time to pick up a new skill, whether it be learning to be an effective vlogger, or getting up to speed with coding or robotics. Learning something new is a great way of keeping the brain active and means there is something very positive to show for the long summer days. Check out our Carfax summer activity camps here.

8. Get ahead for the next academic year.

How satisfying would it be to return to school already ahead of the curriculum so that when the new year starts there are no hidden surprises? By joining a Pre IB course or a Pre GCSE course, students can be introduced to the different areas they will come across in the new syllabus and can be prepared for a positive start to the academic year. Check out our Pre school weeks designed to prepare children to be ready for the start of term.

9. University Preparation

If you are heading into Year 12 then this is the ideal summer to start thinking about University choices. It is never to early to start! The summer is a great time to take the student profiling assessment which helps to identify the best degree matches for each student depending on their interests and overall suitability.

If you are not sure what you want to study then sign up for some of our “Intro to …. Courses”. These are 3 day taster courses delivered by experts and designed to introduce students to what studying for different degrees would involve. If you are thinking of applying to Oxford or Cambridge then you should definitely enroll on our Intro to Oxbridge course.


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