5 ways to outsmart the summer slide

Good news, parents: Scientific American reports on research that suggests the summer slide isn’t as dramatic as previously believed, and even a little extra intellectual stimulation can help students maintain what they’ve learned over the months outside a formal classroom. To help you keep their minds active through the summer (plus away from the pull of screens and out of the house at least some of the time), start with this list of engaging and low-cost programming throughout greater Cincinnati, on both sides of the river.

Take a page from the library

Join the free summer reading challenges across all library branches in Hamilton County and Northern Kentucky. There are prizes tailored to different age groups that motivate young readers to bury their nose in a book every day. Also check out the free educational programs your local branch hosts throughout the summer, both on weekends and during the week. On the Kentucky side, if you’re in Campbell County, the library hosts free programs at public parks. Check out Tower Tuesdays at Tower Park in Ft. Thomas from 10-11 a.m. to watch jugglers, see reptiles and get a close-up look at the types of raptors that appear in Harry Potter’s magical world. Spend some time in Tower Park too, which just got a complete overhaul and is scheduled for its grand re-opening in early July. Along the same lines, there’s also Jolly Thursdays from 10-11 a.m. at A.J. Jolly Park in Alexandria, KY.

In Cincinnati, every single branch offers kid-friendly programming throughout the summer. Filter the search by location to find the branch closest to you, and make sure to register in advance for events with limited spots.

Depending on how close you live to your neighborhood branch and the safety of the route there, consider sending older kids on solo trips to check out and return their own titles. In addition to the traditional stacks, all branches now have computers meant for kids, loaded with educational programs and games. In other library news, the Main Branch in downtown Cincinnati is celebrating their massive renovation and redesign July 12-14.

Sam Greenhill / Courtesy CACThe Creativity Center is an expansion of the Sara M. and Patricia A. Vance Education Center—The UnMuseum™. These spaces are a key part of the CAC's mission to bring art and the creative process to all people.
Make art at a museum for free

At the Contemporary Art Museum (CAC), the Creativity Center (including the UnMuseum) on the 6th floor is always free for kids of all ages and open during regular gallery hours. It’s a hands-on space where children (and adults) are invited to interact with exhibits commissioned with kids in mind. The Art Lab is always stocked with materials and supplies that let kids make their own masterpieces. Or head up to Eden Park to experience the REC at the Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM), also for free, on the first floor just off the Great Hall. The REC offers a dedicated interactive space that changes twice a year. Through this fall, it’s A Pig-ment of Your Imagination by John Lanzador. As you may have guessed from the name, it’s basically an artistic ode to pigs—so appropriate for the Porkopolis. Additionally, CAM has a packed schedule of events for littles, from babyhood through teen years.

Get outside at an outstanding park

There’s a free or low-cost program listed literally every day of the summer at different locations throughout Hamilton County Great Parks. From Turtle Week and Raptors of Ohio (kids are invited to dissect an owl pellet at this event!) at the Ellenwood Nature Barn in Colerain Township, and even some camps that still have openings, there’s something for every interest and age. Live in Anderson? They have an eclectic mix of events, some of which are specially designed for bored teens.

Beyond special events, parks are just plain fun for youngsters. Have you checked out Summit Park in Blue Ash? From creek stomping to separate, age-appropriate playgrounds and a big grassy open space just right for frisbees and kite-flying, it’s a destination worth driving to, even if you don’t live super close by. Plus, they have restaurants on-site for hungry players. Another park worth mentioning is Ault Park in Hyde Park which offers a playful mix of playgrounds and wooded trails, with easy access to a creek.

Join a kid-friendly walking tour

History-buff parents and older kids will enjoy learning the rich history of unique parts of our Queen City on curated walking tours. Friends of Music Hall offers an in-depth guided tour of both public and private spaces within this majestic, iconic Cincinnati treasure. Tickets cost $15/adult and $5 for children under 12. The experience is not recommended for kids under 8.

ProvidedFriends of Music Hall offers an in-depth guided tour.

Serve up a taste of tennis

If you don’t belong to a tennis club and haven’t signed your kids up for private lessons or a week-long camp, it can be tough to serve up an accessible intro to this sport. For a less expensive way to get them taking their first swing, check out programs like Eastern Hills Tennis Club’s summer programs, for around $20/lesson, depending on age and level. Many racket and tennis clubs offer options for non-members, although generally at a slightly higher price than members. And once kids understand some key fundamentals, you can practice for free at courts available in parks throughout the city.

Alternatively, make pickleball a family affair. The newest darling of the racquet world is accessible to pretty much anyone across all ages and doesn’t require any special knowledge or training. Pick up some racquets and balls and watch a YouTube video or two and get swinging (just not in the kitchen). Most public parks and private clubs with tennis courts also offer pickleball courts. Check out the twelve beautiful permanent pickleball courts at Sawyer Point downtown.
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Read more articles by Jessica Bozsan.

Jessica Bozsan is a writer, content marketer and overall passionate communicator who lives in Ft. Thomas, KY, with her hectic family of five. She’s also a reader of novels, a yogi, a walker and a hiker. Additionally, she loves to knit, sew, draw, make jewelry and throw pottery on the wheel.