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      Summer up, reading down; don't let your child fall behind

      Monday was the first day of summer for most school-aged kids and you can bet many of them are ready to sleep in and shut off their brains.

      But you might want to think twice before letting your child do nothing this summer.

      "Kids who have done very well in school over the course of the year can lose ground over the summer if they don't stay mentally active," said Amarillo Public Libraries Public Relations Coordinator Stacy Clopton Yates. "Your brain is a part of your body. If you don't use it, it doesn't do as well as if you keep it active."

      That's also why the Amarillo Public Library kicked off it's Summer Reading Program for the month of July.

      "It rewards kids for their time spent reading. They get a reading log and every time they read for 15 minutes they mark that on their log and as they reach milestones, they get prizes."

      Amarillo mother of four, Ali McEwen, said she encourages her children to read throughout the summer by taking them to the library regularly, making them pick out summer reading books as well as doing an hour of school work every day.

      "We incorporate an hour of school work every day and so that's what they're doing," said McEwen. "So, we do keep them busy and coming to the library and picking out books helps them just keep their minds going with reading and keeps them a little active with education."

      It's also important for your kids to get outdoors and stay physically active, representatives from Kids Inc. said.

      "It's important to keep kids active not only for the school year but when they fall out of their routine in the summer, our of school," said Kids Inc. Director of Marking and Communication Emily Clark. "Staying active, of course, keep them healthy and being part of a team is really big on self-esteem and self-confidence. Every kids needs to know what it feels like to be a part of a team."

      Not only will keeping your kids involved during the summer months keep them healthy and their minds engaged, it might also make going back to school in the fall at least a little bit easier.

      "Those first few weeks of school they struggle if they just sit around all summer long and aren't reading or even keeping their minds going," added McEwen. "A lot of their teachers will tell them it's apparent they've been reading all summer, it's very obvious that they do that because they see the gap between the children who haven't been reading all summer. It takes them a few more weeks to get on track."