School’s out, the sun’s shining and all your kids want to do is stare at a screen 😒. While the summer is a great time to relax and recharge, spending all day plugged in isn’t the answer.

Doing nothing to stimulate the mind for a couple of months can play a role in what educators  call the summer slide, summer setback or brain drain. In fact, a 2019 study  shows the average student loses one to three months of learning over the break. And while you don’t want to stop your kid from having fun creating TikToks, watching movies with their friends or playing computer games, you also don’t want them glued to their devices all day, every day.

Just like your kids know when you’ve brought home icy treats from the grocery store, they can sense forced learning a mile away. So we’ve come up with creative ways to keep your kids' minds sharp, while letting them enjoy their summer break. After all, they worked hard and they deserve a little R&R before they head back to class. 

The great outdoors is calling, so get out there

Picnics in the park, lazy afternoons lounging lakeside, and barbeques with family—it’s no wonder we Canadians love summer so much. All this outdoor time does more than give you a tan line; a review of 35 studies shows that being in nature has positive impacts on a child’s physical, mental and social health. A Canadian Health Measures Survey also found that kids get more physical activity when they’re outside, which is especially important considering just over a third of youth aged 12 to 17 met the Canadian physical recommendations of an hour of moderate to vigorous activity daily.

The good news is, no matter where you live in the Great White North, there are many ways to get closer to nature, whether it’s planting a garden (and maybe learning about plants in the process), heading over to a local park, or going for a hike or bike ride.

Relax and recharge without charging up any electronics

Like your morning cup of java, electronics have snuck their way into our everyday lives. In 2019, the Canadian Pediatric Society set out new guidelines focusing on how and when screens are used (vs. how long). In the report, they found that three-quarters of Canadian parents were concerned with how much their children were on screens, with 36% of children aged 10 to 13 spending at least three hours a day on devices. 

It might feel like it’s hard to compete with Roblox or YouTube, but you’d be surprised at how engaged your kids become when you get involved too. Plan a weekly games night and try a new board game together. You’re even sneaking in math when you play dice, card games and puzzles (shh, we won’t tell if you don't). Challenge your kids to a read-a-thon, where you designate reading time for the entire family, and then report back on what you all read. Have a future writer on your hands? Encourage them to keep a journal, where they can keep a record of their summer adventures. For younger kids, a trip to the store for colourful pens and fun stickers can help create even more excitement.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone, and try something new

Routines are important for kids, but doing the same activities day-after-day? Maybe not. David Epstein, author of the book Range , argues that well-roundedness is particularly important for kids aged two to seven, since their developing brains are primed to soak up a wide range of skills. So, why not let them try something different, whether that’s a new language, instrument or sport. Check out your local community centre for affordable classes, borrow or buy used equipment or use free online learning apps. Even if they ultimately decide they didn’t love it or found the experience challenging, you’ve helped them to foster a growth mindset, which focuses on effort versus performance. 

Look for teachable moments in the everyday  

You don’t need to sit your child down and get them to do math drills to keep their skills up over the summer. A simple trip to the grocery store can become a lesson in addition, while baking a cake can become a (delicious) lesson in chemistry. You’d be surprised how many amazing teachable moments come up every day, from your morning crossword to tipping at a restaurant. The trick is not rushing through these routine acts and taking the time to talk them through what you’re doing. You’ll thank yourself later.

While you’re thinking ahead, plan even further down the road by opening an RESP

You protect your kids against sunburns with sunscreen and make them wear a helmet while they zip around on their scooter. So get a head start on safeguarding their future by setting up a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). When you save for your child’s post-secondary education with an RESP, the federal government has a matching grant program, the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). This means when you contribute, the government will match 20% of the first $2,500 every year, up to a total of $500 a year—with a lifetime maximum of $7,200 per child. 

Getting an RESP started with CST Spark takes less time than filling up the kiddy pool

And you can do it from your backyard too, ice-cold lemonade in hand. What are you waiting for? The sooner you start saving with a CST Spark RESP, the bigger the benefits. 

Questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re available by chat, 6 days a week, or explore our website for more details.

CST Spark Education Portfolios are sold only by Prospectus. Investors should read the prospectus before investing. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.


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