Summertime provides a great opportunity for your kids to get outside, have fun, and try something new. Extending academic subject areas into the everyday world creates new learning experiences that the whole family can enjoy together. Here are a few ideas to help you connect with your child on “field trips” this summer as they learn new things, stay sharp and avoid the summer slide.
Take your kid on a field trip to the aquarium. Visiting a local aquarium can provide many tangible educational benefits for your kids. Take advantage of learning opportunities, such as special presentations, camps, and educational programs , to spark curiosity that leads to scientific inquiry. Encourage kids to observe the behavior of living things in their habitats by drawing or journaling about unfamiliar animals and plants. Research any questions your kids have about these living things with a follow-up trip to the library. Great questions to get you started include:
- What allows animals to live underwater?
- Can sea creatures breathe while they sleep?
- What do different sea creatures like to eat?
Actually experiencing living things through hands-on tidepools is essential. Kids learn through concrete experiences. Rather than just hearing and reading about sea creatures, touching and feeling them will help your child’s cognitive development. Hands-on tidepools are particularly useful for learners who may have heightened senses and can use sensory experiences and texture as a basis for their learning.
Take your kid to play mini golf. Sharpen your child’s math skills with a game of mini-golf. As you play, explain how using geometry to angle the ball into the hole, and using physics to ricochet shots off of different obstacles can help kids win at each hole. After a round of golf, encourage kids to use addition to add up the scores. Younger kids can also practice counting and comparing numbers by tallying strokes and comparing the number at each hole to see where they played best. Most importantly, conquering the clown mouth, windmills, and long loopy loops is an excellent bonding experience for parents, kids, and other family members.
Check to see if any local courses in your area also offer family fun parks that might include batting cages, bumper boats, arcades, or racetracks. This entertainment doubles as opportunities for more math practice, since most games keep score.
Sign your kid up for swim classes. Spend time in the pool to help kids improve their physical health, mental health, self-confidence, social skills and cognitive development. Regardless of a child’s amount of experience in the water, they’ll reap the benefits of this low-impact sport. Aside from building muscle strength and coordination, swimming is an excellent stress reliever for kids. Mastering milestones in the pool helps children build confidence, and makes them more likely to tackle new things without fear of failure. Improving different strokes enhances muscle coordination and leads to stronger gross motor development, which helps kids write and handle scissors with ease.
Take your kid on a field trip to an amusement park. Head to a theme park for a day of thrills, fun, and yes—educational experience! Many amusement parks, such as Disney and Cedar Fair parks, have interesting facts sprinkled throughout the park. Challenge kids to play detective and sharpen research and reading skills by learning as much as they can about the park’s history, theme or characters from posted signs, placards, and brochures during your trip. Have your child be in charge of navigating your family to various rides using a park map, which is great for mastering north, east, south, and west, along with learning how to give instructions.
Risk-taking, while not inherently academic, is also an important skill to apply in the classroom. For example, raising your hand to answer a question or volunteering to speak in front of the entire class can be somewhat intimidating and slightly uncomfortable. Trying something new, whether it’s a roller coaster or math strategy, helps kids get comfortable with the potential of failure, eliminating shame and setting them up to build the perseverance they need to continually try new approaches to problems.
Take your kid to any local park. Grab an athletic bag full of gear, such as a frisbee, soccer ball, basketball, and football, and head to the park or beach for some physical fun. A break from technology and television helps kids relax, enhances concentration and attention, and actually helps kids retain information better. In fact, Active Living Research found that engaging in physical activity helps kids perform better on standardized tests, improving cognitive skills and executive functioning. Learning during the summer doesn’t have to mean drill-and-kill exercises, endless worksheets, and flashcards. By bringing education to life with fun field trips, you can ensure that your kids are engaged in sharpening skills to help them when they return to the classroom in the fall.