Summer's more leisurely pace offers an excellent opportunity to spend time with your child exploring her interests and integrating classroom skills into otherwise ordinary activities. Encourage your child's summer time learning with these fun, everyday activities.
1. Dine and shop. Next time your family dines out, help your child practice percentages by determining the tip when the bill arrives. How much is 20 percent off? When bargain shopping with your tween, teach her how to calculate the prices of marked-down items.
2. Grocery shop. Dictate your grocery list to your child and have him keep track of the list. As you shop, talk about prices, sales and healthy choices.
3. Visit the farmer's market. Ask vendors about fruits and veggies your family has never tried before. Take note of produce that is in season for your local area. Armed with a list and a little cash, your kids can practice their budgeting and money skills while they shop at the market.
4. Grow a container garden. Many kids love cultivating their own vegetable gardens. Provide a notebook for your child to draw sketches or make notes detailing plant life cycles, weather, observations, problems encountered and how she managed those issues.
5. Cook together. Learning to plan and prepare healthy meals is a valuable life skill. Following recipes also helps kids practice fractions and reading.
6. Go digital. Got a bug enthusiast? Go on a scavenger hunt together and take pictures of different insects you find. Your child can make a digital presentation of his discoveries. "Many elementary kids know how to use multi-media even more than parents. They find it fascinating and think it's fun," says Dr. Ashley Norris, assistant dean, University of Phoenix College of Education.
7. Play travel agent. Include your child in planning the family vacation. Assign him the task of researching a site online he wants to visit, including the location, cost and hours. Continue learning when you arrive at your destination. While walking on the beach, for example, talk about the tides, climate, and sea life.
8. Hit the right note. If your child is passionate about music, attend local concert series in parks, which are often free. Encourage him to learn about the history of the music he's interested in and read biographies of favorite musicians.
9. Explore nature. Discuss what your child learned in life science while playing in your backyard. "We always talk about different birds, bugs, and how flowers and trees grow. (My daughter) teaches me things that she's learned in school. It makes her feel good to know she is helping me learn, too," says Catherine Elder, whose daughter is 7. Here are some fun ideas!
10. Nurture creativity. Art enhances creative thinking, motor skills and social and emotional development. Create comic strips, have a splatter paint party on canvas in your backyard, watercolor on textured paper, or make collages out of old magazines. Cool off at the art museum while perusing work from the masters.
11. Journal. Purchase an inexpensive journal or notebook that your child can personalize. Write a prompt or a question at the top of the page. Take turns writing messages and stories back and forth.
12. Read together. Help your child find books and magazines that match his interests. Read together or start an informal book club with your child and a few friends. Schedule an afternoon to discuss the selection over milk and cookies.
When your child begins to see how she can apply what she learns in the classroom to the real world, you're sure to inspire her enthusiasm for learning now and throughout her lifetime.
What fun things do you do with your child in the summer to encourage learning?