Free things you can do to combat summer slide: Learn everywhere

Continuing our series about combating the summer slide, today we’re going to talk about how many learning experiences are available in everyday life and how you can tap into those experiences without spending a dime!

When I was growing up, I had a game to practice my mental math skills.  Whenever my mom and I would go shopping, I would add all the items in my head, calculate the total with tax and check myself against the cash register when she checked out.  I got so good at it, I would get upset if I was more than a cent off. This is more than just a story about how I was a math nerd even as a child, it’s an illustration of one of the ways you can incorporate learning into everyday life.  The store is rife with opportunities to practices math: adding, calculating discounts, calculating change, rounding to the nearest dollar, price per unit, and calculating sales tax.

There are opportunities to learn all over the place.  Historical sites around your town provide opportunity to discuss history and multiple points of view.  Find a family member or friend who lives far away and start a pen-pal relationship with them to practice writing. Rising temperatures allow you to learn about how different materials fare in warmer weather (ice melts, why?  rocks don’t melt, why?). You can take ten minutes after a basketball game to discuss the physics of shooting the ball. Nature walks provide opportunities to discuss biology and ecology (why are frogs so loud at night? What to squirrels eat?) and learn about the scientific method (make observations, form a question, make a hypothesis, collect evidence via observations or an experiment, analyze evidence and draw a conclusion.  A great way to practice the scientific method is to have your kids observe birds in your backyard and guess what they eat, then do an experiment where you put out different kinds of food for the birds and record what they eat most.

Try to think up at least one thing every day that you can use to teach your kids something.  There are so many opportunities around you, be creative!

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