Confession time: I absolutely hate summer sometimes. I know—summer is supposed to be full of blue skies, popsicles, and sprinklers. But it can be a lot of pressure to keep the kids occupied when school is out. It’s hard for me to set the kids up with activities that keep them learning and engaged. It can be particularly tough for parents of kids with behavioral, social, or learning difficulties.
So I partnered with Brain Balance [www.brainbalancecenters.com]—a drug-free, holistic approach to addressing the challenges of behavioral, social, or learning disabilities—to try some of their summer activities, and to share a little bit about their philosophy. And let me tell you, their activities actually work. I’m so excited to keep this momentum going into the summer!
First, here’s the context I learned from Brain Balance about why my children sometimes act up. We all know about the left and right halves of our brain—but did you know that the root cause of most learning, behavioral, and social difficulties is an imbalance between them? Left hemisphere dominant children are very detail oriented and logical, while right hemisphere dominant kids tend to be more emotional. It’s because of this imbalance that programs that combine sensory motor stimulation, academic stimulation, and nutrition can correct brain imbalance and ultimately improve achievement. The activities are great for children without difficulties, too!
Now are some of those Brain Balance summer tips I told you about.
TIP 1: GET YOUR CHILD MOVING
Activities that involve active physical motion help children to read with greater comprehension and retain more information. Enjoy the spring sun by taking your child on an outdoor gallery walk, or take the fun indoors to an exploration-style, hands-on museum. Additionally, children should maintain a daily practice of prescribed left/right brain stimulating activities, including primitive reflex, core, and eye exercises.
TIP 2: COME UP WITH A DAILY SCHEDULE WITH YOUR CHILD
Routines keep children grounded—and they are especially necessary during breaks, when the regular school schedule goes out the window. Let your child have input into their schedule—it will give them agency and make them feel empowered.
TIP 3: SPEND TIME IN THE KITCHEN TOGETHER
Sugar-free, processed-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free foods bring tremendous benefit to your child’s overall health and development. Spending time as a family cooking together also allows everyone to enjoy discovering healthy eating through a fun and engaging activity. It’s also a great idea to let your child do simple activities like measuring ingredients, dividing up portions, and reading recipes. This reinforces their reading and math skills without making them feel intimidated. Plus, it helps you with dinner!
Let me tell you about what these tips did for my child…
Turns out, my little guy loves activities! I tried taking him to museums, on walks… activities I never thought that he would try. And while he was a little iffy about my ideas the first couple of times, they ended up really enjoying the new experiences! The more he tried, the more he was willing to do in the future.
He loved getting out of the house, but I was also surprised to learn that they really enjoyed helping me with in-house activities, like dinner. These activities don’t “feel” like learning, but I noticed my child was practicing skills he would normally hate (like reading and writing) with pleasure. I tricked him into learning, and it felt great! While I loved that he was learning, I know that he loved getting to eat all the creations—so it’s a win-win.
It feels so good to turn summer into another opportunity to keep my child engaged, and I’m excited to try more of Brain Balance’s summer tips.
Brain Balance is a unique program that combines physical and sensory exercises with customized academic skill training and healthy nutrition to help address your child’s specific developmental needs.
Dr. Melillo is a clinician, professor, brain researcher and author of several bestsellers, including Reconnected Kids and Autism — The Scientific Truth About Preventing, Diagnosing and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders, and The Disconnected Kids Nutrition Plan. An expert in ADHD, Learning and Behavioral Issues, Processing Disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorders, Dr. Melillo has been helping children overcome learning and developmental challenges for more than 25 years.