Summer: A Time for Fun Learning

July 19, 2010

Summer is here… and the school year is around the corner!

Parents with young children are thinking about ways to entertain their little bundles of energy. Readers of this blog already know the importance of summer learning; kids who are not engaged during the summer fall behind academically. We also know that, while technology plays an important part in education today, unsupervised use of the computer at home negatively affects test scores at school.

The kids have to be engaged, but not on the computer (unless it’s supervised and timed), and we all know, the TV is out! What do parents do???

Here are some helpful suggestions  from Kid Source Online

Make a HISTORY TIME LINE — Record history at home. Stretch a roll of shelf paper along the floor. Use a ruler to make a line about three feet long. (Use a separate sheet for each child.) Ask your children to fill in the important dates in their own lives, starting with their birth. Those familiar with U.S. history can fill in major dates since the founding of our country. Display these finished time lines in a special place for all to see.

Create PICTURE STORIES — Develop imagination and creativity. Have your children select four or five pictures from magazines and newspapers, and put them together to tell a story. Ask your children to number the pictures — 1,2,3, etc. First, ask them to tell the story with the pictures in numerical order. For variety, have your children rearrange the pictures and tell a new story using this different arrangement.

More ideas from Suite 101

  • Plant a garden or start a compost – Learn about planning, measuring, botany and about the environment.
  • Bake and cook together – Learn about fractions and nutrition.
  • Build something out of wood (table, butterfly house or sculpture) – Teaches planning, designing, measuring and building.
  • Child planned trip – Make a trip or outing educational by having the child plan the itinerary, budget and route.
  • Make a scrapbook or journal of an outing (whether it is a day or week) – Teaches observation and record keeping in different mediums.
  • Educational websites – Limit computer time, and encourage sites that engage the mind.

Enjoy your summer!


Expat Life Down The Road, Pt. 2

September 3, 2009

Last week, in Part 1 of this article, I introduced four recent college graduates who lived abroad for part of their upbringing and went to college in the U.S. Now we’ll find out in what ways their time abroad shaped who they are today. I want to offer a big thank you to Alex, Andres, Brittany, and Jessie!

Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the things that the four interviewees all blame on their time abroad was what Andres refers to as his “jet setter” traits (Brittany calls it “the traveler that’s still within me”). Jessie explains, “I think travel is a bug that infects early, and those who have the privilege to travel at a young age tend to dedicate much of the rest of their life to fitting in as much travel as possible.” Early travel exposes children to new sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and types of people. Alex says that he has “no qualms about getting around a new major city” and suggests that part of this is related to the fact that his eyes have been opened to various types of music, art, food, and the like (“I can order comfortably off of pretty much any kind of menu”).

Alex explains another thing that makes travel easier now: “Living abroad and going to an international school shrinks the world. I feel that I know at least someone in every major city in the world”. The fact is that the turnover rate for new students in international schools is incredibly quick. Andres points out that this has its downsides too, as it is hard to see friends leave. He acknowledges, however, that this contributes to an openness that students have and a willingness to make new friends quickly.

The recent graduates all spoke about issues of diversity, open-mindedness, racism, and the like. Brittany ties her open-mindedness to the people she met abroad: “You are forced to embrace others and yourself because the differences are so obvious, and at the same time trivial”. Alex seconds this notion: “I went to school with a very diverse group of students from all races and religions. I grew up truly color blind to the world, which puts me in a unique position”. Andres says that this definitely made him different from his American college classmates. He says that growing up, he wasn’t truly aware of racism. “I had never really thought about racism as an issue until the first week of [college] when we had a Cultural Diversity Workshop… It was just a completely different concept to me.”

Academically, too, these four found themselves to have had a different background during their time abroad. Brittany says that “in Jakarta, there was such an emphasis put on learning for the sake of learning, instead of learning for the sake of getting a good score on your SATs or getting into a good college”. They all mentioned the high quality of teachers during their time abroad—teachers who really were passionate about teaching. Jessie offers her reflections about one way that the French teachers and teaching system set them apart from those in America:

“[The American School in Paris] was one of the first places where I really learned to push myself academically: not to settle for adequate work (which, unfortunately, I noticed was very easy to do once I got stateside), but to strive for better. The French grading system is out of 20, but 12 or better is considered a score to be proud of. NO ONE gets a 20. 16 or 17 would be a phenomenal grade. Meanwhile I got back to America where you can earn a 107 on a test if you do extra credit—how is that pushing students? Obviously, this is something of a personal preference, but I really feel like instilling in students the idea that you can always do better is such a great way to encourage hard work (and then, of course, providing them with the resources and support necessary to realize that hard work).”