Vail Daily column: Keep the learning going
Across the country, school is definitely “out for summer”! But this does not (and absolutely should not) mean that learning stops during these fun-filled months for kids. Our kid’s brains and bodies are growing up every moment and as parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors, we all have an opportunity and a responsibility to keep the learning going. In that spirit, here are five big ways to make this a summer of learning for those kids in your life.
1. Keep your kids reading. Students experience something called the “summer slide” after they come back from the long summer break, where their academic achievement levels dip as they’ve gotten out of the practice of being challenged mentally. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Our Eagle Valley libraries are open all summer and have a number of great programs and books for kids of all ages. If you want books to keep, then try one of our community’s great book stores, or check out the selection at one of Vail Valley Cares Thrifty Shops. If your kids are into technology (as mine are, even at 2 and 3 years old!), then check out any number of great reading apps for kids — such as our family favorite, Speakaboos.
2. Create a cultural learning moment. Summer is a great time for travel, so take your child to a place and culture different than their own. Our world is wonderfully diverse in terms of people, languages and cultures. It might be in another country or right down the road, but expose your child to those differences, and encourage him or her to observe similarities and differences and ask lots of questions. Curious and accepting kids turn into innovative and tolerant adults — something which our world certainly needs.
3. Take a kid to work. Unlike most of us, kids have some time on their hands in summers. While a lavish share of this should be spent engaged in things like exploring neighborhood trails and chasing butterflies, consider taking a kid in your life to work with you. Have them get ready, go in with you, and (to the extent developmentally appropriate) have them work with you and shadow you for the day. Teach them some important concepts you work with daily, the basics of your profession or business, and see if there are some ways your child can contribute.
4. Explain a big idea. Summer is definitely a time for travel and exploration. Build these into learning experiences by going somewhere or seeing something of significance. Within driving distance are places like Mount Rushmore for historical significance or Yellowstone for kids who dig geology (pun intended). Farther away, trips to places like Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian or any of the amazing New York City museums would leave a lasting impression.
5. Learn with your kid. Finally, walk the talk with your kid by showing that everyone can and should be a learner. Dig into something fun and learn alongside your young person, thinking about and experiencing something you never have before. The world of our children’s future is going to be driven by people who have adaptive minds and who have learned how to learn. Model for them that learning as an adult is important, valuable and might also be more than a little fun.
In sum, don’t let these precious moments for learning go to waste. Yes, get out there on the river tube or behind the barbecue grill, but also grab onto some of these moments to spend some time learning with a kid!
Jason E. Glass is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.