Keeping Skills Sharp in the Summer

In your mind, does summer time equal down time?  Do you look at the months of June July and August as a time to sleep late, watch tv until the wee hours, lounge by the pool or at the beach, and perhaps, take that “dreaded” family vacation? 

If that is your view of summer, it may be time this year to switch focus for your own advantage. All those lessons taught from September to June are locked up inside your brain.  All that knowledge is not interested in lying dormant all summer; it wants to be put to good use.   

Without turning summer vacation into summer school, there are a few fun and engaging things you can do for yourself during the lazy days of summer to keep your mind fresh, your body active, and yourself motivated and entertained during the summer.

Exercise Your Body

To keep your body active, get out there and move. Remember, when you were younger and those long summer days were for playing outside, splashing in the pool with friends, or maybe playing baseball at the park?  Why does that type of fitness have to fall by the wayside just because you are too old for splash parks and swings?  

Join a summer sports league, or investigate your local gym or sports club to see if they offer a summer membership package for teenagers.  Daily exercise is good for the body, the heart, and for the mind. The endorphins created through exercise will make your brain more active as well.  

Don’t want to trek down to the gym every day? Look no further than your tech device for ways to stay fit. iTunes offers many fitness apps available for download; including one 7 minute workout that allows you to unlock other workouts for free if you do the first one for a full week. If 7 minutes a day is all it takes to stay healthy then begin that download and have some fun!

Exercise Your Brain

Learn to Cook

Summer time is the perfect time to practice some of those life skills you will need after college. It may seem like light years away, but sooner or later, Mom won’t be making meatloaf for you and Dad won’t be lighting up the grill. You will have to cook for yourself. So, if your culinary career thus far has been limited to waffles in the toaster and pizza in the microwave, this summer is the perfect opportunity to head into the kitchen and start cooking. 

Incorporate healthy lifestyle habits by trying out creative recipes with healthy ingredients. Add a dash of math skills that are stored in your brain by doubling or halving recipes depending on how many people are coming for dinner. You’ll learn new skills and also make your parents happy when they realize you’ll have dinner waiting for a few nights each week.

Teach Others

Sometimes, the best way to reinforce your own abilities is to help someone smaller than you are. Do you babysit during the summer?  Are you tired of playing kickball or Barbie each afternoon? Then why not play school instead? Even elementary schools are giving summer work to their students these days, so work with the child in your care on their summer assignments. If they are complete, play a fun math came or read aloud to each other for half hour.

If you do not have a steady babysitting job, check around your neighborhood; often churches and day camps have postings for parents looking for tutors for the summer. A tutoring job will keep your mind fresh, as you think up creative ways to impart the knowledge you have learned over the years. It is a great way to set a good example for younger children as well.

Make Reading Fun

Speaking of summer work, do not let those books you were assigned collect dust on your nightstand until the last week of August. Have any of your friends been assigned the same summer reading as you? Ask your parents if you can host a book discussion night to talk about summer reading. Make some appetizers, pour some sparkling soda, and relax with friends, talking about the book you all had to read.

Look online beforehand; most books have online discussion questions. You’ll be all ready for your teacher in September if you engage in a group discussion beforehand. And, hey, once you finish discussing the required reading, maybe your book club could continue to meet to talk about other works of literature as well. Consider a “Fiction into Film” party; read the book, watch the film and compare and contrast.  Reading truly can be enjoyable, especially if it is done with friends.

Exercise Your Creativity

Reading and writing go hand in hand, and an excellent way to stay on top of your writing skills is to keep a journal. It can be a simple as a paragraph each day about how you spent your day. That might sound boring now, but someday you’ll find it amusing to re-read.

If writing doesn't appeal to you, keep a photo or art journal. Snap or draw a daily picture and then write a paragraph, reflecting on the image. Nature photos, group photos of family or friends; along with your personal reflections- you may have some wonderful and thoughtful Christmas presents in the making during the summer months.  Photo journaling is a fun and amazing way to hone your writing and observation skills.

Get Ready for the SATs

The SATs will be waiting just around the bend when you return to school, so spend a little bit of the summer getting ready for the SAT. Set up a free Khan Academy account for daily SAT practice. If you can commit to just 20 minute a day, you’ll feel much more confident and prepared when you head in to take the test in the fall. Learning online is also a great tool for non test prep practice as well. Check out the App Store for online games, classes and other resources that will allow you to explore new topics or enhance your skills.

Summer time does not have to equal down time if you incorporate one or more of these suggestions. You can relax, enjoy and keep your game up, all at the same time! 

A good test-prep program can take you from an average SAT or ACT score to an above average score. Learn more about Magoosh's flexible and affordable programs.