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Stay-cations That Build Brain Power

There’s no need to pack a suitcase for a great vacation
When I was teaching second grade, so many parents would ask me about places to visit during spring break that were both fun and educational for their children. Exploring what’s in our own backyard may yield some fun surprises – and prove there are several close-to-home spots perfect for a stay-cation.

There are plenty of daytrip destinations where kids can enjoy some informal learning and stretch their minds through play and discovery.

Since one of the best things you can do to help your children build cognitive skills is to read with them, why not turn your local library into a vacation hot spot?

The library is not only an affordable source for books, music and movies – they typically offer fun and free events year round.

Just a short drive into Houston will provide plenty of museums to explore – including the Houston Fire Museum, the Children’s Museum of Houston, the Museum of Natural Science and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. One of my personal favorites is the John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science. When I took my class there on a field trip, they particularly enjoyed the tour through the body in the Amazing Body Pavilion.

If Houston is too far away, The Woodlands Children’s Museum is right in the neighborhood, in the Panther Creek Shopping Center.

The Woodlands Children’s Museum offers fun programs year-round, and their calendar is always full of events and activities – suited for children 8 and under.

Another fun option is camping in a nearby state or national park or even your own backyard. Create an outdoor learning adventure – and teach your children how to identify the stars at night and spot birds and other wildlife during the day.

The most important thing to remember is to make an effort to keep your child’s brain active over any break from school.

I think back to my days in the classroom and recall spending four to six weeks in the fall re-teaching what students have forgotten due to the “summer slide” – and there’s even a “winter brain drain.” With the increased rigor in the curriculum, it’s even more important for parents to plan activities that help kids keep their minds active when they are not in school. Sure there are many beneficial apps and games out there for our electronic devices, but a key part of learning is human interaction, so plan some activities which involve that important component, too.

close to home destinations