May 20, 2013

Five ways to beat "brain drain" over the summer

1. Teach your children to be "life long learners"

Help them to realize what they learn every day

Create a "what I learned today" journal that you or THEY keep.   Make it a part of your daily routine.

Some ideas of things kids can learn:

2. Explore what your child loves

Help your child discover a "passion" or learn more about them-self
Rather than doing a "workbook", take some time 5 days a week and do some hands-on education (something your child won't get in a traditional school)

Starting now, before Summer vacation, start asking your kids individually and collectively what topics or subjects are most interesting to them.  Encourage them to think outside the "box" {read: school} For example: one child may be fascinated by the Gold Rush... another child may love animals. 

If you ask and they look at you blankly or tell you a television show or video game, you have some work to do. If your children are really not sure, go ahead an give them a list of topics they might like to learn more about

Here is a list of possible topics:
Airplanes. Aliens. Amusement Parks. Aquariums. Astronauts.  Balloon Animals. Building things. Cell Phones. The Circus. Comets. Computers. Constellations. Dinosaurs. Dolphins. Dragons. Eclipses. Endangered Species. Engines. Fairies.  Farm Animals. Firetrucks. Fortune Cookies. Gadgets and Gizmos.  Gorillas.  Haunted Houses.  Honey. Igloos. Kid Celebrities. Knights. Legos...  for more ideas of things kids like, I found a list of 500+ things kids like.

Then spend time exploring those topics in a variety of ways.  Don't just read about it on the internet, go and check out a book at the Library, find an experience they can do! {Visit a historic Gold Rush town or call a Veterinary Hospital or local farm and ask if you (and your kids) can have a tour.}

3. Include your kids in everyday activities

Going to the grocery store... make it fun and educational.
Teach math skills by giving your children a list, a calculator and a limited amount of money, and take them to the grocery store and see what they choose to buy.

Menu planning and Nutrition (Food as fuel) Help them learn to plan nutritious meals by allowing them to plan, create the shopping list,  shop for the groceries and help you cook the meal.

Other activities that could include "learning": House cleaning, washing the car, creating a simple budget, etc.

4. Include your kid's friends in learning opportunities

Make it fun by making it a "play date" - organize an "outing" by inviting other moms to join you.

 Visit a candy making factory {Hershey's, Jelly Belly, etc.}
Visit a national park {Caswell, Del Puerto Canyon, Knights Ferry}
Visit a museum or zoo
Visit a nearby large city and be tourists, take public transportation {if that is novel for you}
Create a "craft day" with friends
Go to a local farm and pick fresh fruit

5. Give them incentives

While you won't be giving your kids grades over the summer, take the time to give your kids opportunities to be recognized.

Find out if your local Barnes n Nobles, In n Out, or local Library offers summer reading programs
Many local organizations give incentives to keep kids reading over the summe.

Come back and I will share a couple of ideas for incentive charts like this one or this one... and a new idea I am contemplating that will have my kids paying me each time they are intentionally annoying!

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