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Sneak a little education into summer

By By Michelle Blaylock, Mom’s Corner
Truthfully, I love the summers. I like spending time with my children. Well, I like spending more time with my children. I like the freedom that summer provides. I’m not really a morning person and getting everyone ready for school is a little trying on my “non-morning” personality. Of course, as our summers keep getting shorter, thanks to our school system, I feel I have to “cram” more into my time with them. (In case you aren’t aware, Hartselle City Schools start back on Aug.6!)
I also try to sneak a little education into our summers. I don’t want my children to suffer from “brain drain” and there is truth in the phrase “use it or lose it.” In fact, some studies show children can lose as much as two months of academic skills over the summer break.
How do you fight it? I don’t know about your children, but I know mine would have a fit if I tried to give them worksheets or other traditional school materials. I really don’t blame them, after all they really get enough of that kind of work throughout the school year. Also, I get very tired of hearing, “Why do I need to know this anyway? I’m never going to use it in “real” life!” Therefore, I think summer break is a great time to show my children how and when some of those skills are used in “real” life.
For example, shopping is a wonderful time to work in many skills that they will truly need their entire lives. I think this is a great time (even with young children) to explain the wonderful concept of a “budget.” Explain how much money can be spent on groceries, clothes, or whatever is being shopped for. Next, children can help make a list. I think this is a fun time to have children guess how much they think items will cost. Of course, unless a child has really had to look a prices before he or she may not be very accurate and will probably need some help from the parent, sales ads, and receipts from other visits to the store to come up with an accurate total.
By just preparing for a normal shopping trip it is easy to include reading, writing, consumer math, and planning skills. By using sales ads, it is easy to show how skills such as learning to use percents can be beneficial.
I have found the easiest way to teach my children things pertaining to science and history is to generally just start something then let the children ask questions. For example, start gathering items needed to make a terrarium. My children are, at most times, insufferably curious and can’t stand for me not to tell them what I’m doing. So, of course, I don’t tell them. I’ll just say something like, “Wait and see.” I usually get a response of “Can I help.” Then I know I’ve hooked them.
It is hard sometimes to come up with ideas our children don’t just roll their eyes at. Never fear, there are many websites to help us. One I came across I thought was very good is school.family education.com/summer/family-learning.
Our family has always enjoyed history, so including history over the summer is easy. We watch The History Channel quite a bit and also enjoy talking about the “old” days. Of course, it is depressing sometimes especially when the “old” days my children are talking about was when I was a little girl!
There are many levels of history from our own family history up to world history. Even if you have lived here your entire life you may not have taken the opportunity to explore the local history of the area.
The website www.800alabama.com is wonderful. I clicked on “Things to do,” and then on the northern Alabama section. I was given a list of 107 things pertaining to history and culture to do in northern Alabama. History is much more fun and interesting for children if they can experience it in some way. Okay, it’s more fun for me too!
I hope you have a great summer! If you have a question or comment for Mom’s Corner, please e-mail it to: moms-corner@juno.com

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