WARREN, NJ - The weather has finally turned warmer and the school year is winding down. Parents and students everywhere are busy planning for summer – vacations, camps, internships  – you name it! Although the idea of unfettered days is momentarily appealing, we all know that kids need to remain engaged in meaningful activities, not just to keep boredom and bickering to a minimum, but to challenge the brain and to prevent the dreaded summer brain drain.

The summer brain drain or the summer slide are terms used to describe the amount of information and learning that is lost when a student does not engage in educational activities that stimulate the brain during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer. It is estimated that school aged students lose an average of 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency in math computation skills and 25 percent of their reading skills. That explains why teachers usually spend four to six weeks re-teaching materials in the fall.

So what’s a parent to do? Fight back! Here are some suggestions:

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                 For elementary and middle school students:

■ All students can benefit from a trip to the local library. Most of the local libraries have a summer reading program with rewards. Parents of younger students can create a summer reading list with their children and then reward them when they finish each book.

■ Additionally, parents can encourage their kids to think outside of the box with arts and crafts. Sites such as kids.gov and NGA Kids have great ideas that will encourage any child’s imagination to run wild and stimulate creativity.

■ Summertime can be a great time to teach healthy eating habits. Parents can get ideas for nutritious meals at Let’s Move! and kidshealth.org. There is also information available about the USDA Summer Food Program, which was established to ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.

■ Engage your child with camps and other local learning opportunities, such as a summer brain training program at LearningRx Warren.

For high school students:

■ Summer can be the perfect time for high school-aged children to prepare for college, and setting aside at least one day a week to keep math and science skills fresh is an excellent way to start off the summer. Local libraries are an excellent place to find books full of practice problems.

■ Camps and activities for the high school student must include a tenacious amount of vocabulary building so be choosy that the camp or program you choose has the right stimulus.

■ Many high school students might also want to take the time to start developing their professional resumes. Finding a part-time job can help students gain valuable experience and line their pockets with a bit of extra cash. Visit www.wh.gov/youthjobs for more information.

■ Volunteering is also a great option. Youth-oriented summer camps, local museums, animal shelters and libraries are often looking for extra help during warmer months. This experience is not only valuable for personal and professional development, but it looks good on college applications. Find opportunities at volunteer.gov.

For more suggestions about summer activities and games that engage the brain, or to learn more about Summer Brain Training Programs, call LearningRx Warren at 908-22-BRAIN (908.222.7246). Learn how brain training has helped other local families by visiting http://birdeye.com/learningrx-warren-nj-reviews