Beating the summer holiday brain drain
How parents can keep kids’ minds active over the holidays.

More so for children rather than the parents looking after them, the summer holidays mean one thing: relaxation.

Sadly, for today's kids "relaxing" often means "slouching in front of the screen of your choice, be it TV, computer or phone". With parents equally tired from the year's activities, it's all too easy for them to do little to nothing to rectify this.

In years past when TV - never mind shows good enough to keep a kid entertained - was a luxury, summer holidays allowed children to spend the day outside. This was time spent playing imaginative games which stimulated the mind, says Godfrey Madanhire, former teacher turned professional life-coach and motivational speaker.

Also read: Holiday ideas

Though no longer formally involved in the education sector, Madanhire is still very passionate about children, working at underprivileged schools in South Africa to motivate and inspire schoolchildren through his motivational company, Dreamworld Promotions.

"Studies have proven what parents have long known: that an extended period of time - such as the summer holidays - in which a child's mind is not adequately stimulated can actually lead to 'academic regression', more commonly referred to as 'summer slide'," Madanhire says.

"Through repeated messaging, parents now realise that during holidays they need to ensure their kids remain physically active. Equally so, they need to ensure that kids remain mentally stimulated.”

Also read: School holidays: Keeping kids busy

To this end, Madanhire provided Parent24 with four short simple tips parents can follow over the upcoming school-break.

Holiday camps - Where financial realities allow it an idea, which has been a staple in the US but is only growing in popularity in SA, is the holiday camp.

Camps are specifically designed with the aims of maximising entertainment, educational and exercise opportunities for children, with most camps running for seven days.

Daily programmes - Most local governments run daily programmes for children over the summer holidays free of charge.

"A good place to begin looking for information is at your local library where many of these activities take place," Madanhire says.

Online resources - It may seem strange to prescribe another screen to stick your child in front of, but as Madanhire notes, there is a wealth of fun and educational games and resources you can find online for your child.

"If part of an overall programme packed with outdoor recreational activities, this can be much more than 'slouching in front of the screen'."

Activities in the home - Though they may seem mundane to us as adults, many of our daily activities offer us a chance to stimulate the young mind.

Madanhire points to involving both your son and daughter in the daily cooking or gardening as a chance to broaden their horizons with a new skill, with the additional opportunity for parent-child bonding.

How do you keep your kids' minds stimulated and entertained during school holidays? Share your tips and tricks by emailing and we may publish your story. Should you wish to remain anonymous, please let us know.

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