5 Great Ways to Keep Your Brain Active Over the Summer Holidays

Schools out for summer! You’ve been working hard for the year, and now’s the time for a well-deserved break.

Whilst it’s important to rest up to be refreshed for the new year, keeping your brain active is vital to ensure you hit the ground running in the next school year and don’t suffer that dreaded learning loss. The NWEA’s research suggests that 27% to 50% of Maths progress made throughout the year is lost over summer

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to keep working through some of those not-so-interesting school textbooks over the summer. You can still keep your mind sharp over summer through a range of diverse hobbies or reading into areas that you wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to in school.

Whilst saying that, it’s extremely beneficial to practice some of the skills you learned in school. There’s strong evidence showing that students who attend voluntary Summer School programs experience measurable benefits in their Maths and Science classes the following year [1]. 

Keep reading to find ways that maintain a healthy mix of fun and study over the school holidays. 

Get Physically Active

Exercise has been shown to benefit both the mind and the body, giving you a double whammy. Being physically healthy has been scientifically demonstrated to boost brain functioning, which in turn improves academic success. Trying to develop a habit of sport, fitness routines, or simple activities might provide you with an excellent rhythm to begin or end your day.

If you don't enjoy exercising, there are many other forms of physical activities you can participate in and attempt. If you find something you want, you will not regard it with disdain or as a chore. You may look back on what you did in the end and feel proud of yourself. 

Continue Learning

Summer is an excellent time to study for GCSEs, A-levels, and other exams. You may not want to learn or review the study material over the school holidays, but it does not have to be an incredibly tedious task.

Here’s an interesting activity! Start by checking your ‘Screen Time’ for Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat this week. Take ¼ of that, and try to spend that amount of time revising each day. For example, if you’re spending 2 hours a day on TikTok and Instagram, try to cut that down to 1 and a half hours, and spend 30 minutes reading ahead on next year’s content.

Even just this small amount of time each day has huge compounding effects and by the end of the summer, you’ll be streets ahead of your peers (without being too behind on the latest memes!).

If you work on it first thing in the morning, your most essential routines will be completed for the rest of the day. Planning your studies with a study plan and curriculum or exam outlines would be ideal for making the process easier. 

It might help you determine what to study that day and reframe how you study by planning ahead of time. As previously noted, active learning can go a long way; this can be accomplished by:

  • Learning with an online tutor who helps you master relevant information.
  • Visit locations relevant to the study, like landmark sites, art, history, or science museums.
  • Watch educational content on Netflix, TED talks, or Youtube surrounding the topic.
  • Read new and exciting books on the relevant content or listen to podcasts on it.
  • Review past material you learnt, take notes and make flashcards.
  • Share stories about topics through writing or drawing about them and teach people.    

Be an Avid Reader

You will hear it over and over again because it's true. Reading can help you improve your English skills and knowledge about topics that interest you. There are many additional advantages, such as your brain signals becoming more active, which then build and mature while delivering mental well-being, to name a few that have been verified by science and research. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction, just read what you enjoy. Did you know that when you read fiction books, your brain’s neurons act similarly to how it would if you were the protagonist in the book?

Similarly, reading the newspaper keeps you up to date on what's going on in your city or around the world. You don't have to read books or news items in person anymore; you can read articles like this one online or browse through other blogs that interest you. On the other hand, physical books have their virtues and may be easier on your eyes.

Let Creativity Flow 

Creativity is a possibility for everyone, regardless of whether you think you are capable or not. At the end of the day, it is all about having a good time. The iconic artist Pablo Picasso stated it best: "Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." It requires bravery to keep being creative and nurturing that inner artist. An online tutor or creative courses might assist you in developing and honing these abilities.

Cooking is among the many creative hobbies that people may pursue. It's all about figuring out what you connect with. Walking along this route can also lead to increased positive emotional well-being, courage, innovation, creativity, and, believe it or not, English skills. Building on innovation involves learning to be versatile and think outside the box. Here are some engaging creative activities to try, but you are not restricted to these options:

  • Singing, rapping, poetry, music production
  • Creative writing, journaling, blogging
  • Photography, videography, acting/drama
  • Refurbishment, upcycling, sewing, terrariums
  • Painting, drawing, pottery, coloring, cooking 

Play More Games 

It is critical to remember to play games with intention. Playing games may appear paradoxical, but it can be beneficial to your brain's performance and memory. However, it is also dependent on the type of game you are playing. That being stated, you can spend time with your friends or alone while developing patience, increased memory, problem-solving, strategic, and critical thinking skills that will help you with Maths or English.

The beautiful thing about games and technology is that they can be played online or offline and provide entertainment for people of all ages. The games listed below are excellent methods to keep you on your toes when you feel a little bored.

  • Sudoku
  • Crosswords
  • Strategic Board Games
  • Card games  
  • Chess
  • Scrabble

Learn a Language

Did you know that, in Europe, fully two-thirds of the population is bilingual or multilingual? 

The British don’t have a great reputation for learning other languages, but it has some serious benefits for your brain health!

Among the many other effects, multilinguals are more creative and divergent thinking than monolinguals.

Taking 15 to 30 minutes each day to learn a new language is a great way to force your brain out of its comfort zone and also learn a new skill to show off!

[1] Catherine H. Augustine, Jennifer Sloan McCombs, John F. Pane, Heather L. Schwartz, Jonathan Schweig, Andrew McEachin, and Kyle Siler-Evans.

Learning from Summer: Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Urban Youth. RAND Corporation. (September 2016). 

Author's profile picture

Sebastian Owen

19th August

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