What a year it has been! Hopefully your heads are all a little fuller than they were… you have the whole summer ahead to get them nice and empty before next year starts…
Even the wise words of Albus Dumbledore from the world-famous Harry Potter series confirm the impression that most parents and teachers already had: a long break from studying such as the summer holidays can cause a significant loss of the knowledge acquired during the school year and make the return to the usual routine more traumatic.
What can you do to keep your brain in shape over the summer? It might surprise you, but the answer is not homework! Here are five ways to keep your brain active during the long school-free time ahead of you.
1. Lose yourself in a book
For many students, reading feels like a chore: far too often, school ends up driving them away from reading instead of giving them a lifelong love of books.
But the freedom of choosing what books to read and the luxury of reading for the sheer enjoyment of it makes reading a book (or two, or ten) for yourself a completely different experience.
Reading books is an excellent brain workout. Whether it teaches you new vocabulary or simply ensures you are not out of practice once you go back to school, reading on your own time is a pastime no educator can frown upon—and if you have an ebook reader, you can bring an entire library to the beach without loading up your suitcase!
2. Get creative
Speaking of writing, putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – is only one of the many ways to pursue your own creative projects. Write, draw, compose music, take photos of all the interesting things you see: whichever means of expression you prefer, traditional or digital, creativity is food for your mind, and during the holidays, when you can escape the restrictions of assignments and rest easy in the knowledge that your efforts will not be graded, your creative freedom increases tenfold.
3. Mens sana in corpore sano
Exercising in hot weather brings to mind unpleasant scenarios of sweat and sunstroke, so do remember to stay safe, apply sunscreen and choose the appropriate hours of the day for your athletic endeavours, but even the heat should not stop you from keeping your body moving. The link between an active lifestyle and an active brain is scientifically proven: exercising promotes the creation of neural synapses and may improve your academic performance as well as your results in sports—and besides, your PE teacher will certainly approve.
Keep track of your exercise regimen the old-fashioned way or download a fitness app—either way, try not to be a couch potato this summer, and your whole body will thank you for it, including your brain.
4. A change of scenery
Travel does not necessarily mean visiting a luxurious tropical island at the other end of the world. If you lack the time or resources for an extended trip to a costly location, there are cheaper solutions a little closer to home that can be just as interesting.
Whether your holiday is geared towards the beauty of nature – camping or hiking, for instance – or of man-made art – visiting museums or your country’s national landmarks –, accumulating new experiences makes for a great story to tell when you go back to school (or live on social media if you cannot wait to share it) and keeps your brain engaged. Trying new foods and seeing unfamiliar places are a worthy challenge for your mind.
5. Keep learning
And of course, if you are not busy enough already, you can attend summer classes or apply for a seasonal job or volunteering: you will learn new skills that will look good on your future curriculum, meet new people, and step out of your comfort zone.
If you like hanging out at the pool, get certified as a lifeguard; if you are an animal lover, help the local shelter. The choices are endless and you can learn something from them all—and learning, in school or out, is the best summer treat your brain can ask for.