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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 1:27 pm | A Few Clouds 57º


Bill Cirone: Summer Fun and Learning Can Go Together

Children consider summer a time for fun, but it’s important that their academic skills don’t get rusty before school resumes in the fall.

Fortunately, parents have many ways to help their children continue learning throughout the season. Many entertaining activities are also lessons in good citizenship and academic subjects.

To demonstrate good citizenship, parents can check the newspaper for volunteer activities and participate in one with their children. You can make a weekly visit to an elderly person in a nursing home. Visit the animal shelter, the fire station or a hospital to show children what goes on at these institutions.

Making history come alive can begin with your own family. If possible, collect photos of all grandparents and great-grandparents. Have children write these people’s names and birthdates on the backs of the photos. Tell stories about the family.

Discuss the meaning of holidays with children. If you take a trip, visit the historical sites along the way. Save the information brochures as you go. Surf the Internet together and check out library books or DVDs to reinforce new learning from the trip.

Visit a cemetery. Make a game of finding the oldest stone. Read the inscriptions and talk about the past with your children.

It can be fun and educational to give children a garden plot in the yard or a window box or planter on a balcony. Be sure the child has full responsibility for the plants. That can include checking the daily newspaper’s weather map to understand about the plants’ needs for water. In addition, you can help children figure out what the weather is like for friends and relatives who live in other places.

Camp out for a night on the balcony, in your yard or at a campground. These experiences all add to children’s sense of perspective, self-worth, and their place in relation to the environment and to other people. Every experience can be a learning experience, and summer is the perfect time to explore some of the alternatives that are not always available at other times of year.

It also can help to “get organized.” Have children start a collection, be it rocks, stamps, baseball cards, bottle caps, labels, marbles, leaves or bugs. Ask your child to arrange them in some order — by categories, color, shape or alphabetically, for example.

Suggest that kids swap paperbacks, comics or magazines with extended family and friends. The local library might help organize an exchange.

It‘s also a good time to help your child develop a sense of responsibility. Ask children to take charge of family recycling. Teach boys and girls how to take care of their clothes, sort and fold laundry, use a washer and dryer, sew on buttons, iron clothes, or polish shoes.

Bolstering the three Rs is vital. Recommend that children keep a diary — a journal of their activities or the family’s. Take time every day for the whole family to read by themselves or together. Even 10 or 15 minutes is fine. Allow children to choose their reading materials. Have kids follow a favorite newspaper comic strip. Have them write letters or send postcards to cousins, grandparents and friends.

To keep math skills sharp, you can ask kids to review cash register receipts. Ask them to check the receipts for accuracy when you’re unloading groceries or to add up the prices each week. You can also teach older youngsters to compute gas mileage.

Kids need to keep learning in the summer, but with some creativity they can have fun at the same time.

— Bill Cirone is Santa Barbara County’s superintendent of schools. The opinions expressed are his own.

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