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Learning continues through the summer

Experts consider reading a great summer learning activity

Posted: July 22, 2008 12:29 a.m.
Updated: September 22, 2008 5:02 a.m.
With the school year over, the summer opens new opportunities for youngsters to continue the learning process.

Local experts consider the public library to be a top stop for parents and kids.

"Summer is a great time for reading," said Mike Kent, regional director and owner of Huntington Learning Academy in Valencia. "The number one suggestion to all parents: Use the time to read."

But piling books on children is not enough.

"For parents, it's more than just giving them a book to read," he said. "It's having them interact and read with them."

That means asking kids questions, like "What do you think will happen next?" or "Why do you think the character did that?"

"Those things lead to higher reading skills," Kent said.

On top of reading, parents can turn everyday activities into ways to learn new things.

For example, kids who go to the supermarket with their parents can create math games from the price and weight of food items, Kent said.

Everyday experiences in the home can allow kids to create science experiments or set out to do science investigations in their community, according to Diane Trautman, co-owner and education director of locally-based StudyPros In-Home Tutoring.

Parents can even watch science programs, ranging from PBS to the Discovery Channel, on television and discuss them with their children.

Trautman suggests parents take their kids to museums to learn about history and concerts to expose them to the arts.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell echoed the importance of summer learning.

"This is a tough year for families because rising costs are forcing many of us to stay close to home and look for free or inexpensive things to do," O'Connell said in a statement. "But it's a perfect time to take a step back from our daily routines, bond with our kids and explore new activities that will keep children active and engaged in learning during the summer months."

The summer can be a way for kids to learn stress reduction, too.

"We all get worked up during the course of the school year," Trautman said. "I think it's helpful to show kids that having some downtime is important to learning, too."

Relaxation is key because if children are constantly trying to cram information without taking a moment to review and process it, they will not be effective learners, she said.

Regardless of how kids continue to learn over the summer, Kent and Trautman believe that perhaps the most important thing is to find ways to teach.

"Learning doesn't take a summer break," Kent said, later adding, "If a kid says something like, ‘I don't want to think about academics,' then all of a sudden, learning is a negative."

With that, it's up to the parents to turn learning into a positive experience through motivation.

Trautman believes education should continue beyond the summer months.

"I think the main thing is that education should become a way of life," she said. "Not just something that you have to do during certain hours of the day."


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