5 ideas for a visually healthy summer

e sun's out andsummer's here once againSchool is over and summer approaches…what are we going to do with the kids?  I asked myself the same question when I realized that the school year is going to end in less than two weeks.  Summer presents quite a challenge–we want the kids to rest and recharge.  The school year is demanding, both mentally and physically.  Summer break is a time to rest, relax and enjoy the luxury of NOT having to sit in a classroom for 8 hours a day.  On the other hand…the benefits of academic learning and the practice of reading everyday are well known.

The trick is to strike a balance between activities that exercise our visual-perceptual muscles as well as our skeletal muscles.  To help get the creative juices flowing, I have out together a small list of activities that are beneficial for the visual system as well as the summer soul!

  1.  Swimming:  swimming is a fantastic activity that builds strength  as well as works on coordination and bilateral integration.  Bilateral integration is essential for an efficiently run visual system
  2. Art camps:  Art is a fantastic way to exercise our powers of visualization!  Using physical media to create the pictures we see in our brains help teach us how to visualize accurately.
  3. Team sports:  team sports require us to process all sorts of visual information at once–where the ball is, who is coming up behind me and where am I going to pass the ball next?  Operating efficiently on a team is an excellent test of how well our peripheral and central streams of visual information are working together.
  4. Summer reading:  I think that summer reading gets a bad reputation.  Reading over the summer is so important because it is forces kids to practice the skills necessary for reading.  Now, I do agree that the incessant tests over the summer reading books are irritating, but the reading itself should be enjoyable.  Becoming a good reader takes practice, just like becoming a good athlete.  The summer is a fantastic time to practice reading.
  5. Free play time:  time for free, unstructured play is very important.  It allows time for kids to use their imagination and exercise their powers of visualization.  Play time should be in 3D and not in front of a screen.  Whole body movement, the ability to make their own choices in a controlled, safe environment and use their imagination is crucial to development.

There are so many different activities that fit into the broad categories I mentioned above–various sports, reading camps, outdoor camps, and everything in between.  The take home point:  stay active, make time for fun and enjoy your summer!

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