SUMMER BRAIN ROT One of the worst "diseases" your child can catch between June and September is the dreaded "summer brain rot." Although it is never fatal, this "disease" can slow a child's mental processes and prevent him from reaching his full potential.

Summer is a great time for kids. They love playing outdoors, sleeping late, and taking a break from schoolwork. Family vacations are usually arranged during the summer months and are typically recreational in nature: camping, seashore, amusement parks, and visits to relatives.

The cause of Summer Brain Rot is three months of not having to think. Symptoms include a dull stare (from eyes fixed on television all day), sore fingers (from constant video game playing), blood-shot eyes (from staying up later than normal, and frequent use of the word "Huh?" (a sure sign of brain deterioration caused by not having to think of a better word).

How can you prevent Summer Brain Rot in your child? Here are ten suggestions that might help you.

1. Insist that your child spend at least 30 minutes a day reading something. Get him a library card and take him there once a week. Better still, sign him up for the summer library reading program.

2. Organize some meaningful activities for your child, such as planting a garden with research on proper care methods, cooking some simple family meals with careful notice of recipe measurements, housecleaning his room with some thought given to rearranging and/or redecorating.

3. Let him find a job. No matter what your child's age is, there is some task or chore he can do for you, a relative, or a neighbor. Older children can obtain gainful employment or create their own business: pet walking or sitting, yard work, grocery shopping, attic or cellar cleaning, weed-pulling.

4. Have your child keep a "Summer Journal" that chronicles daily activities, trips taken, people visited, movies watched. Read the Journal together on Sunday evenings as a review of each week.

5. If your child must play video games, at least provide him with some educational games and require that they get equal time with the other, recreational games.

6. Get your child interested in the daily news through either the newspaper or the television. Have him follow a news story and be able to converse with you about it.

7. Send your child to summer school or camp. Many school districts offer an enrichment reading and/or math/computer course. Many day camps are available.

8. Teach your child a new sport: golf, tennis, fishing, croquet, volleyball, mountain biking, rafting. Most important – have someone teach your child to swim. Drowning is a leading cause of summer deaths among children and young adults. Even the very youngest child can be taught to stay afloat.

9. Take a walking tour of a nearby town. You can spend an inexpensive day just roaming around local villages and checking out the main streets. Your child can make a map of the trip.

10. Set up a weather station in your yard with a thermometer, barometer, rain gauge and windsock. Have your child serve as the family weatherman. Nightly reports can be issued at dinner.

Certainly, summer is a time for play. However, all play and no work make your child a candidate for the "Summer Brain Rot." This "disease" will never have a Jerry Lewis telethon to help find a cure. You parents need to do that all on your own.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANOTHER EDUCATION AND FAMILY TOPIC WITH DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: jsmith1313@cfl.rr.com [1] mailto:GINJIMS@SCCOAST.NET [2] OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.