NDSU Extension - Mercer County


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Families Can Provide Learning Experiences Throughout Summer Break

reading, library, learning, books, summer break

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

Families Can Provide Learning Experiences Throughout Summer Break

        Children may be out of the classroom during the summer, but that doesn't mean they have to stop learning.

        In fact, summer is a great time to take many of the concepts they are learning in school and apply them to actual experiences.

        While we often define learning as a process completed in an academic setting, education is really a series of lifelong experiences that take place both in the classroom and outside of it.

Every time we see things in a new way or in a new environment, we learn. Anytime a child asks the question why and then discover the answer, it's learning.

        Many teachers send home ideas and packets of activities for youth to work on throughout the summer. Parents may want to look these over and choose several to work on as a family. But summer learning experiences don't have to stop there.  

        One simple thing you can do this summer, and all year long, is read to your child each day. If the child is able to read on his or her own, encourage reading throughout the summer. Research shows reading to kids teaches them better concentration and focusing skills. It makes them better readers.

        Also, encourage reading by taking trips to the library to check out books on topics children show an interest in.

        Another way to encourage learning is to take skills learned in school, such as math, and help children apply them to family activities and projects.

        If you are cooking a meal, have your child practice math skills by doubling the ingredients, or measuring and then converting from tablespoons to cups or from ounces to grams.

        If you are painting the house, have your children estimate the amount of paint needed and the cost.

        Encourage your children to help plan a family vacation by estimating how far you want to go each day, what stops you want to make, what food and clothing you want to take and other aspects of the trip.

        Other suggestions for encouraging learning throughout the summer include:

  • Work on a gardening project with children. Gardening teaching organization, planning and responsibility. Kids can figure out how much space and how many seeds they will need. They also can estimate the approximate harvest dates for their crops.
  • Plan to participate in upcoming events. Study holidays, like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, ahead of time to better understand their meaning and history. Get a list of local festivals and attend as a family.
  • When taking hikes together, learn the names of trees, flowers and bushes. Study the natural terrain in state or local parks.
  • Encourage kids to help you figure out answers to household questions, such as budgeting for a weekend getaway or how to plan a backyard barbecue.

      Remember - practically everything you do can be a valuable learning experience if you work with your kids on discovering answers together.

Source: eXtension.org

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