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How maintaining structure can help children's physical and mental health this summer

Elizabeth Graeber for NPR

Kids are getting a needed break from school this summer, but that doesn't mean they don't still need to give their brains and bodies an occasional workout to stay healthy - mentally and physically.

That's according to Dr. Derrick Booth, the executive director of community services at Trillium Place. He said some academic loss during the summer is unavoidable, but keeping kids active can lessen the amount forgotten.

He says parents should encourage their children to read over the summer or do worksheets.

"All of those things will help decrease the summer slide that is inevitable to happen at some level," he said.

Playing video games or scroll through social media all summer isn't necessarily good, either.

"Providing them interactions, social interactions is very important," Booth said. "But then anytime you can put them in positions to learn new skills, talents, and passions, it's helpful as well."

Booth said the right activity will vary by the child. Some might thrive playing Little League baseball, while karate or chess might be a better fit for others.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.