Add reading, math and science in creative ways to your summer playlist.
As we’ve all discovered in recent months, learning can continue at home for kids. While we want students (and their parents) to relax and recharge during the summer break, there are simple and fun ways to keep on learning. If you can commit to only one activity to encourage your child’s learning this summer, make it reading.
While we all don’t use algebra or calculus daily, math does make itself known in all of our lives every day.
Telling time, counting money, saving for a purchase, cooking with a recipe, determining trip distance, following a budget – these are important life skills that rely upon our math mastery. Summer is an ideal time to show everyday math to your child and help him or her put it to practice.
Need resources to figure out how to teach these lessons? The Food Network serves up recipes for cooking with kids at https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/packages/recipes-for-kids. Finance guru Dave Ramsey doles out tips on teaching kids about money at https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/how-to-teach-kids-about-money. And Scholastic (which, if in doubt as to where to look for help on teaching an idea, is the best first place to check) can help you turn activities like planning for vacation into a math lesson: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plans/teaching-content/budgeting-trip/
It’s a Science
Like math, science also is all around us … look for those everyday activities like cooking, gardening, cleaning, and driving a car that can teach lessons about biology, chemistry and physics.
If you want to take it next-level with at-home experiments, try two websites suggested by CCSD STEM learning partner, Discovery Education: the 3M Young Scientist Lab at https://www.youngscientistlab.com and Lockheed Martin’s Generation Beyond website at https://space.generationbeyondinschool.com. Scholastic also provides simple, hands-on science lessons like sprouting seeds (https://www.scholastic.com/parents/school-success/learning-toolkit-blog/germinate-seeds-and-watch-them-sprout-windowsill.html).
Traveling to new places promises excellent social studies opportunities to explore the destination’s history and culture. If you’re able to travel during the summer break, look the city, state or country up online ahead of time to learn more. If you’re staying at home, consider traveling virtually; here’s an excellent list from We Are Teachers to get you started: https://www.weareteachers.com/best-virtual-field-trips/
Don’t forget about our living history books – grandparents! Encourage conversations between generations in your family: What was it like to live through the Civil Rights movement? Do you remember getting Internet access at your house? Where were you when 9/11 happened? If you can’t see each other in person, connect virtually by phone or video-conference. Not only can children learn about history from their grandparents, they also can grow closer to these loved ones.
Read, Read, Read
Through reading, children not only increase their literacy and vocabulary, they also expand their knowledge – whether it’s the obvious lessons of non-fiction or the more subtle ones gleaned through fictional characters’ experiences.
Schools and public libraries are best friends, and the Cherokee County School District (CCSD) loves the Sequoyah Regional Library System and its resources and programs for kids. Even when the public libraries are closed, your child still can check out a book using the online Libby system. Learn more on the public library system’s website at https://www.sequoyahregionallibrary.org/.
As I write this, a re-opening date for our public libraries has not been set, but once they do open, visiting the library in person offers children excellent opportunities for learning. They can do research; borrow books, DVDs of movies, and other fun extras like backpacks of STEM equipment; and participate in special programs.
Another outstanding resource for online books is Get Georgia Reading’s free summer access for students to the Renaissance myON e-library, which features a wide catalog of titles for all ages. Learn more at https://getgeorgiareading.org/renaissance-digital-library/.
Sparking a child’s interest in reading sometimes takes finding the right genre or author. Librarians know their collections by heart, but if you’re looking online, try a website that gives suggestions like this one from Scholastic (a CCSD literacy partner): https://www.scholastic.com/parents/books-and-reading/book-lists-and-recommendations.html. Another worthy source for high school students is a suggested reading list for Advanced Placement (AP) English classes – this is useful even if your child is not taking the classes, as the recommended books are foundational for college prep. You can find plenty of these AP lists online – here’s a recently updated one: https://www.albert.io/blog/ultimate-ap-english-literature-reading-list/.
And, sometimes, it does take seeing a parent or other loved one reading to inspire a child to do the same. Consider setting aside regular family reading time – whether on the couch, in the backyard or at the beach. Feeling extra? Create your own family reading challenge with an incentive once your child crosses “the finish line” – maybe it’s a favorite sweet treat or a new iPad game. Form your own family book club and report on your reads to each other over lemonade and cookies.
By Barbara P. Jacoby, contributing writer, chief communications officer for the Cherokee County School District, and a CCSD parent with four children.