May 20, 2016 20:48 ET

LearningRx -- Brain Training -- Recommends Summer Activities to Avoid Brain Drain

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO--(Marketwired - May 20, 2016) - Summer may be prime time for fun in the sun -- but if the break from school isn't spent wisely, a student's brain power can melt away. Kim Bellini, director of The Woodlands LearningRx, said that most students experience a 'summer brain drain'. "The amount of knowledge students lose over summer vacation requires teachers to spend almost six weeks catching them up for the new school year," she explained. "Students should take time over the summer to build their brain power instead of falling behind."

LearningRx and Kim Bellini offer a number of tips for parents who want to help their children make the most of the break from school:

  • Read as much as possible. Enroll your child in a summer reading program through your local library or create your own series of rewards for meeting benchmarks. Leisure reading -- including comic books and magazines -- are fine alternatives to novels, Bellini said. "Make sure they have a chance to read something they enjoy," she said. "Let your children fall in love with reading over the summer."
  • Sign up for lessons. There's strong evidence that learning to play an instrument can significantly boost cognitive skills. Why not have them spend the summer learning to play one? In fact, building any new skills will help students exercise their minds. Enroll in a workshop, take an art class or learn a new language.
  • Play games that build brain power. Buy a stack of crossword puzzles, Sudoku or trivia books. Bellini said jigsaw puzzles and classic games like chess and Scrabble are great ways to build cognitive skills. Try having a few family game nights over the summer months -- and have fun while developing processing speed and visual processing skills.
  • Discover science in your own backyard. Bellini suggests making a fun field trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, The Health Museum, The Woodlands Children's Museum or the Houston Zoo. She also recommends a nature walk at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center or a trip to Brazos Bend State Park to check out the George Observatory. The George Mitchell Nature Preserve is another spot Bellini recommends for watching wildlife and learning about trees and plants.
  • Stay healthy. Bellini said that exercise is not only good for the body, it's also a way to strengthen the mind. Increasing oxygen flow to the brain helps increase its performance, and time spent playing sports or riding a bike is time away from the TV. Feed children nutritious snacks and meals over the break, including berries, lentils, salmon, walnuts and ground flaxseed to increase clarity, memory and focus.

"One of the most vital pieces to a healthy brain is getting a good night's sleep," Bellini said. "While it may be tempting to let your children stay up later during the break, any extreme change is going to make it that much harder to adapt to the school schedule after summer ends." For parents who are too busy to help their children build their brains during the summer, there are several area camps and day cares that can help. Woodlands LearningRx, for example, offers a customized course for individual students that can help strengthen cognitive skills. "Our course fits perfectly into the summer months," Bellini said. "We can identify any weak cognitive skills and address them over the break -- so that children are prepared for a successful school year."

Founded in 2003 by Dr. Ken Gibson, LearningRx offers a nationwide brain-training network with 78 locations, specializing in identifying and correcting the underlying cognitive skill deficiencies that keep people from achieving their full potential in school, business, or life. Using a comprehensive skills assessment test and intensive one-on-one training, LearningRx certified programs enhance weak cognitive skills such as attention, memory, processing speed, and problem solving.

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