Have you ever hidden vegetables under macaroni and cheese to get your child to consume something healthy? A similar tactic can be used when it comes to summer learning. Incorporate educational activities into summertime fun and your child will get their daily dose of learning without ever knowing.
Making sure your child is engaged in learning over the summer is important. Research shows that when students are not involved in some form of learning over the summer they can actually slip behind and lose some of the skills they gained the previous school year.
The good news is, when it comes to summer learning, a little goes a long way. Investing even 30 minutes each day in educational activities will give your child a big advantage come September. The teachers at Commonwealth Connections Academy, a Pennsylvania virtual public school, have come up with these fun and easy ideas to get you started:
1. Play Ball! – Let America’s favorite pastime give your kids a mental workout this summer. The Science of Baseball is a free web site that offers fun and interactive games (test your reaction time, the science behind a home run) as well as some great historical information (the girls of summer). An entertaining alternative when the game is rained out!
2. Visit a Museum… Online
More and more of the world’s great museums are offering exciting online experiences. From art and science to natural history, the Web has made a “visit” possible when a trip to the big city is not. The Smithsonian offers a Library and Archival Exhibitions on the Web searchable database to help you find all sorts of interesting exhibits. For example, explore the collection at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC or check out CT scans of a 2,500 year-old mummy at theMuseum of Science in Boston. And learn everything you want to know about baseball from the Library of Congress.
3. Show Me the Money!
Commence Operation Piggybank. Money is a tangible and fun way for students to explore math. Challenge your younger student to count the money in your wallet or ask them to point out the items that they could/would buy with $5 at a local shop. Connections Academy offers a nifty interactive Lemonade Stand – an online math game that examines supply and demand while building estimation and calculation skills.
4. Take a Virtual Vacation
No plane ticket? No problem! Sometimes half the fun of a vacation is planning the trip itself. With your child, decide upon a fabulous destination then research the location at the library and online. Consider things like, the best time to visit and the local currency and how much money is needed for your fantasy trip. Finish the project with a “destination evening” — cook a regional dish and present the details of the trip to friends and family. Visit the travel websitehttp://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/ to get started!
5. Read Every Day
No list of summer learning activities would be complete without reading. Reading with a child is one of the most educational and enjoyable pastimes around. Your local library is a valuable resource and often will host special events throughout the summer. Take turns reading to each other and, if it is not already part of your bedtime routine, set aside 30 minutes each night to get into a good book with your child. And don’t forget to sign up your young reader for free motivational programs like http://www.bookadventure.com/ that reward her with prizes for her reading accomplishments.
6. Listen to a Story – Even on your iPod or iPhone
You probably know that your whole family can listen to great literature together, thanks to the many recorded books you can check out for free from your local public library. But did you know that your iPod- toting teen or tween can also listen to great literature on-the-go, wherever he is? Lots of free literature podcasts are available for everything from Aesop’s Fables to Zola. Visit the podcast directory http://www.openculture.com/
7. Family Game Night – Set aside one night a week for family game night. Chess supports youngsters’ analytical and problem-solving skills, and scrabble helps boost spelling and vocabulary skills. You can play the board game, or even play free online versions, if your ‘plugged in’ students prefer. And every day, you can add magnetic letters to your fridge or play with Connections Academy’s virtual version .
8. Hit the Park – Take a family field trip to a local park or historic site. Kids love animals and nature, and can learn lots about science while having a ball. Don’t forget to ask park officials if they have any free student guides or activities for your kids. Many historic sites stage re-enactments of battles or life in time gone by – school, home life — that really bring history to life for youngsters. Your family can also visit some of our nation’s most popular national parks, like Yosemite, without even leaving home, thanks to free sites like http://www.yosemite.org/,
9. Blast Off! to Outer Space – Visit your local science museum or observatory to learn about astronomy with your kids. Then visit http://www.nasa.gov/, a treasure trove of free science activities, information and videos for kids. There’s even a game area, indexed by grade level,
Whatever you do to enhance summer learning keep things interesting and think variety.