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School's Out, But Summer Experiences Keep Kids Learning

It's summer, ‚Äčand that means that kids have cast off the shackles of forced education and are free to sleep 'till noon, lounge on the couch and play video games until their eyes cross . . .

Or so they think.

Instead, you're going to help them experience summer as they should - improving their character and knowledge through learning that's both fun and fascinating. Check out these suggestions:

  • A walk with your child is a great way to gather data through the senses. A walking trip to the park could be a planned event with a simple map that shows the route you will be taking. Depending on the age of your child, the walk will allow him or her to:
    • Count the number of blocks you walk or the footsteps you take, and enter the information on the map.
    • Count the number of animals, houses, stop signs, etc. that you see.
    • Experience textures (e.g., a rough sidewalk, a silky flower petal, etc.).
    • Identify objects along the way. (Write the objects' names on the map or keep a list for later reference to help with word recognition and spelling.)
    • Identify colors. (Write the appropriate colors next to the objects your child identifies.)
  • The library is a great place to visit. Local libraries offer great summer learning opportunities for children that allow them to experience the world through print as well as interact with other children socially. And studies have shown that children who often visit libraries typically do better in reading and math than children who don't.
  • Zoo trips create excitement for children. Before going to the zoo, take some time to plan out the visit with your child. Work together to develop a budget for the trip. Have your child earn an allowance for doing age-appropriate tasks around the house so he or she can be responsible for purchasing some of his or her own food or a souvenir at the zoo.
  • Summer day camps can be both fun and educational. The cost of summer day camps can range from free to beyond $100. An Internet search will provide information specific to your area. If you would like your child to attend a day camp (or take swimming lessons, join a club or play organized sports), but you don't think that you can afford it, ask if scholarships based on family income are available.

The bottom line is, summer is a time for fun - but that doesn't mean that fun can't also be educational.