Summer Camps and Executive Function

Children exploring outside with magnifying glass

While we patiently await the arrival of spring, it’s time to start planning summer activities that keep students entertained and offer opportunities to enhance executive function strategies. Here are some creative summer camp ideas that integrate executive function strategies.

1. STEM Camps with a Twist

Traditional STEM camps often focus on multi-step activities like building a robot or designing a science experiment. These activities foster executive function strategies by asking students to plan, organize, and problem-solve. Help enhance these strategies by asking students to keep a journal to track their progress and reflect on their learning.

2. Outdoor Adventure Camps

Nature-based camps provide a perfect setting for developing executive function strategies. Hiking, camping, and team-building activities require students to set goals, collaborate, and adapt to new environments. These experiences can also help students practice managing emotions and staying focused under pressure. Students can also learn about environmental issues and participate in activities like planting trees, cleaning up local parks or beaches, and learning about wildlife conservation efforts.

3. Arts and Crafts Workshops

Creative activities like painting, sculpting, or crafting enhance artistic skills and promote executive function. Planning a project, gathering materials, and following instructions help strengthen these strategies. Encourage students to showcase their work and explain their creative process, fostering communication and self-regulation.

4. Coding and Computer Programming

Introducing students to coding and programming can greatly benefit their executive function development. These activities encourage logical thinking, problem-solving, and attention to detail. Students can create their own games or animations, which boosts their confidence and creativity.

5. Sports Camps

Sports not only promote physical health but also improve executive function strategies. Team sports require players to strategize, communicate, and make quick decisions, all of which are essential for strong executive function. Encourage students to set personal goals and track their progress throughout the camp. Sports broadcasting camp allows students to learn about sports journalism, commentary, and broadcasting. They can practice interviewing athletes, writing sports articles, and even create their own sports broadcasts.

6. Cooking Classes

Cooking is a hands-on activity that integrates multiple executive function strategies. Following recipes, measuring ingredients, and managing time all contribute to developing these strategies. Students can plan and prepare meals, fostering autonomy and responsibility.

Summer camps provide a valuable opportunity to enhance executive function strategies in students. By incorporating these strategies into summer activities, parents and teachers can help students develop crucial strategies that will benefit them academically and in life. Be sure to explore ResearchILD’s courses for students over the summer months!

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About the Author

Caitlin Vanderberg, Ed.M., is a SMARTS Associate and an Educational Specialist. She leads the MetaCOG Surveys & Toolkit and provides academic support to students with learning, attention, and executive function challenges. Before joining ResearchILD in 2020, Caitlin worked as an assistant elementary school teacher and with many arts education programs. Caitlin holds an Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education from Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

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