Check out our tips on how parents can help their kids keep their minds sharp. If you have any tips, please share!

Tip of the Week


Preparing for back-to-school season is more than just shopping for classroom supplies and new clothes. During summer vacation, kids can experience a month or more of learning loss. As a parent, you can halt the summer brain drain and give your kids the brain boost they need to prepare them for the upcoming school year. Exercising the brain doesn't need to be something boring that kids dread. With some creative ideas, you can encourage your children to have fun and the education will come naturally.


- Smart idea 1: Scavenger hunt: A family scavenger hunt can make for a fun afternoon activity full of education and a bit of friendly competition. For smaller children, focusing on counting skills can be a good way to add education to the activity. Have them look for things like five red rocks, three yellow leaves and one penny. For older kids, make nature your inspiration and have them seek more specific items, such as a certain type of tree leaf, a specific flower or a bird feather from a popular local bird. Arm them with a nature book or diagram so they can learn about each item as they look for it.


- Smart idea 2: Board games: Recent research has acknowledged the significant benefits that board games have, not only on children's cognitive development and their brain's motor functions, but also on important life skills such as patience, cooperation, concentration, teamwork and perseverance.


- Smart idea 3: Crafts that teach: Encouraging kids to be creative and use their imagination is a great way to have a blast while exercising that brain muscle. If your child has an interest in a certain type of art or craft, encourage him to explore it throughout the summer. From writing poetry to sketching flowers, you'll be amazed to see their talent develop.


- ARA


Family Screening Room


“The Smurfs”


Rated: PG (for some mild rude humor and action)


Length: 103 minutes


Synopsis: When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village, they tumble from their magical world and into ours -- in fact, smack dab in the middle of Central Park. Just three apples high and stuck in the Big Apple, the Smurfs must find a way to get back to their village before Gargamel tracks them down. - Columbia Pictures


Violence/scary rating: 2.5


Sexual-content rating: 1.5


Profanity rating: 2


Drugs/alcohol rating: 1


Family Time rating: 2. A good movie for the whole family.


(Ratings are judged on a five-point scale, with 5 being “bad for kids” and 1 being “fine for kids.”)


Book Report


“The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens” by Sean Covey


Ages: Young adult


Pages: 288


Synopsis: Being a teenager is both wonderful and challenging. In “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens,” author Sean Covey applies the timeless principles of the 7 Habits to teens and the tough issues and life-changing decisions they face. In an entertaining style, Covey provides a step-by-step guide to help teens improve self-image, build friendships, resist peer pressure, achieve their goals, get along with their parents, and much more. In addition, this book is stuffed with cartoons, clever ideas, great quotes, and incredible stories about real teens from all over the world. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” will engage teenagers unlike any other book. - Simon & Schuster


Did You Know


A study by the University of Michigan found that 20 percent of teens abuse prescription medicines by taking too much; only 10 percent do so intentionally, however.


GateHouse News Service