November 20, 2017
While summer vacation is a welcome change for children with LD, research tells us that kids who are not engaged in formal education may lose ground over the summer. One way to avoid that is to sneak in learning. The following suggestions for turning day-to-day activities into stealth teachable moments may help ensure that your child picks up where she left off—instead of two months back—when school starts again in the fall.
The supermarket is the mother lode of stealth learning opportunities. Ask your child to help you with the shopping by setting up a digital list, organized by category (e.g. fruit, vegetables, dairy, etc.).
Once at the store, reinforce math, reading, problem-solving, and critical thinking by asking questions such as the following as you traverse the aisles:
- What’s the best price?
- Which items have the healthiest ingredients?
- Which items are environmentally friendly?
- Is it worth it to spend more on organic fruits and vegetables?
- What size pet food package gives us the best value?
Engaging her in thinking and responding makes the excursion more fun, and reinforces skills she’ll be called on to use when she’s back in the classroom.
Include your child in family vacation planning. Participation in problem-solving about vacation destinations or major purchases teaches not only the cost of transportation, lodging and entertainment, but can reinforce cognitive skills as children negotiate comparative pricing on travel sites, and prioritize the family’s interests, and non-negotiable variables.
If your child is old enough and has the technical know-how to navigate travel sites, give him the first crack at planning a family getaway. You supply the final budget number, and let him propose the plan: how to get there, and where to stay, eat, sight-see, etc.
Counter complaints about the boring food you serve with an offer to prepare a kids’ choice menu one night a week as long as your young ones agree to help by reading the recipe and doing the measuring.
Older kids can get involved in the meal planning and preparation itself. It’s the perfect opportunity to reinforce budding knowledge about nutrition and simple science concepts.
In addition, cooking is an ideal time to catch your kids with their defenses down. It’s a chance to ask them about what’s going on in their lives without getting an evasive answer. It’s hard to be surly with a face full of Sloppy Joe.
Summer is full of informal teachable moments. It’s all about taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves. Seeing fireflies on an evening walk might send your child to the computer to learn how they light up; or sleeping under the starry sky might inspire a trip to the library for a book on astronomy.
The key to summer learning is keeping it fun. Whether reinforcing basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills or introducing your child to new fields of interest, sneaking the learning in under the guise of fun activities is a win-win for everyone.