Now that summer is here, kids and teachers alike are enjoying some well-deserved time away from the classroom, and the last thing either group wants to think about right now is going back to school. Thankfully, they don’t have to – yet. But come September, teachers face the challenge of getting kids back into “school-mode,” a process that can take several weeks at the beginning of each school year.
The reason? Some call it summer brain drain, while others call it like it is: a loss of learning. After spending 10 months filling their developing minds with new information, young children tend to associate the summer months with fun and play, often averse to doing anything that resembles a learning activity. But no matter where or how your kids are spending their summer, it’s always possible (and surprisingly easy) to keep their skills sharp and prevent that summer brain drain with activities so fun, your kids won’t even realize that they’re learning.
But why not kill two birds with one stone? Between trips to the park, play dates and other child-centric activities that fill our days, we end up squeezing in time to run our everyday errands which, let’s be honest, would probably take half the time to do without the kids in tow. But with a little reframing, it’s easy to see how these daily errands are great learning opportunities for kids.
Here are three ideas to get you started:
At the Doctor’s Office…
Pediatricians usually fill their waiting rooms with toys, games, books, and other items for kids of all ages. Have your child pick out a book, make sure that it’s age-appropriate, and take turns reading the story together as you wait for your child to be seen by the doctor. If the book selection is sub-par, another way to practice reading with your child is to choose a magazine and have your child make the sounds of various letters as you point them out.
At the Supermarket…
Use coupons to sharpen basic math skills. If you have a coupon to save one dollar on a box of cereal, for example, say something like, “This box of cereal costs three dollars, and this coupon means we can subtract one of those dollars. How much is three minus one?” Depending on your child’s age and/or skill level, you can use coupons to sharpen other basic math skills like multiplication, fractions, and percentages. A teaching tool that saves both your money and your child’s math grades – what could be better?
In the Car…
Car time in between errands tends to consist of several quick trips, so a great use of this time is to practice one skill, like colors recognition, using a different method for each trip. For example, before you leave the house, ask your child to pick a color, and whichever color he or she picks will be the Car Game Color. If the color is blue, have your child be on the lookout for blue cars during your first car trip, blue signs during your second, people wearing blue clothing during your third, and so on. Before you know it, you blue through your errands and you’re done for the day!
With a little creativity and resourcefulness, parents can turn almost any basic errand into a teachable moment for kids. And what better time than summer to make the world a fun and exciting classroom in itself? Keeping your child’s skills sharp during the summer months is something you can work into your normal daily activities – and it’s the best way to beat that summer brain drain.
How do you help your child(ren) beat summer brain drain?
With all the time kids will spend outdoors this summer, chances are they will attract an occasional bug bite or sting. Before sending your kids outside for extended periods of playtime, follow these 5 tips to keep your kids protected from pests while they enjoy the great outdoors.
1. TELL them not to play near garbage cans, recycling bins, and/or swampy areas.
2. DRESS them in layers that include long-sleeved shirts and long pants, with short-sleeved shirts and shorts underneath.
3. TEACH them to walk away slowly from any hive, nest, or stinging-insect swarm they might encounter. Make sure they understand that swinging at, swatting, and otherwise engaging these types of insects will NOT make them go away, but rather make them more likely to sting. Kids must know that the best way to prevent stings is to stay still or walk away slowly.
4. KEEP them free of scented products (including lotions, hairsprays, soaps, etc.) that are likely to attract bees and mosquitoes.
5. CHECK them for ticks as soon as your kids are finished playing outside. And while you’re at it, it’s a good idea to check your pets for ticks as well, especially if they spend as much time outside and they do in your home.
Despite your best efforts, the occasional bug bite (or “itchy,” as your little one might call it) can pop up every now and then. That’s why it’s always a good idea to carry an anti-itch product like Kids After Bite with you at all times to soothe any “itchy” that comes along.
Have you found your own easy way to bug-proof your kid(s) when they play outside? If so, let us know! Your comment can help prevent kids everywhere from “bugging” Mom and Dad the next time they get bitten!
The last few weeks of August were rapidly coming closer and the mountain of college supplies invading my living room continued to grow dangerously higher as I was preparing to embark off to James Madison University for my freshman year of college. I was convinced at this point that my mother had officially gone insane, after buying three sets of extra sheets, nine packs of highlighters, and two first aid kits, "just in case" I ran into any massive paper cuts in the library. However, among all of these "necessities" that my mother so lovingly purchased for me, there was one item that I bestowed upon myself before I left for Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.
This particular item I had debated purchasing all summer, since most of my hours were spent working at the Educational Warehouse in Wayne, New Jersey, so it had been staring me in the face month after month. The item was the Trend Wipe-Off Calendar, to be used with dry erase markers, about 22 by 28 in size and tastefully decorated with scenes of every season around the perimeter. What I loved even more about this calendar was the price –it was only $2.99 (why I had debated buying it for so long is beyond me). Little did I know at the time of purchase that this calendar was literally going to be my savior for the entirety of my freshman year!
When I arrived in my dorm room at the end of August, I hung the calendar with care upon my cinder block wall above my desk (using strictly Mavalus tape, the only thing I could possibly find that would stick to cinder block), and soon after receiving five different course syllabi from my five different professors, I knew that I needed to get organized or my head would explode; keep in mind that classes hadn’t actually started yet. I quickly went to work on marking each assignment, essay, report, and exam that was due on my wipe off calendar, using a variety of color-coded dry erase markers that kept the overloaded calendar easily understandable, even if it may have looked like I suffer from a minor case of OCD.
As week after week passed, I continually filled my calendar with new assignments, group meetings, and other activities around campus. As a college student, my schedule was constantly changing so using dry erase was definitely the most efficient method. I relied on my calendar everyday to know exactly what tasks needed to be completed that day, and it was exceptionally helpful for long term assignments that simply cannot be done the night before in a college course load. Regardless of how well one may write a paper, the grade will simply remain a zero if the paper is turned in late. With the help of this calendar, I never once turned in a late assignment, and I was even able to manage my time well enough to have the opportunity to complete extra credit assignments.
My roommate even recognized how useful and effectual my calendar was, and I happily returned from Winter Break with a matching calendar for her own use. I can honestly say at this point that there is no way I could have kept my life on track without the use of this calendar. I managed to make Dean’s List my first semester and President’s List my second semester, largely due to the organization this calendar provided for me in my studies. I would strongly recommend this calendar to any high school or college student who could use some organization in their life, for it will surely lower your stress level and improve your time management skills for a low price!
By Brittany Hunter
Educational Warehouse – Wayne, NJ
As any school employee knows, the last few weeks of school can be a hectic time, whether you are a first year educator or a seasoned veteran. To help make the process just a little smoother, here are a few tips for organizing your supplies and closing up your classroom!
Having been a classroom teacher for over ten years now, I have realized that it is very easy to build up quite a store of supplies and other odds and ends. And while I always have every intention of using these teaching tools, workbooks, office supplies, etc, space can be limited and it is good to inventory and clean out the collection every so often. Some things may no longer apply to what I will be teaching the next year and so can be passed on to co-workers. Others might need to be thrown out because pieces are missing, such as games, puzzles, etc. Then, of course, there are the broken crayons, dried out markers, and torn books. A purge, at least once a year, can not only help make things easier to organize, but it also allows you to see what you may need to keep an eye out for over the summer, whether at flea markets, garage sales, or educational supply stores!
You will also want to make some smart choices about methods of storage for your materials over the summer. While cardboard, such as the 10”x15”x12” tote/stow binswith built in handles and lids, can be more cost effective, plastic bins and boxes will last longer and better protect your posters, border trim, workbooks, etc.
For storing paper items such as bulletin board decorations, cut-outs, trim, and calendars, an important step in the storage process is to laminate them all. The plastic lamination will help preserve them longer so they can be used again next year. Most laminations will also create a coating that can be used with dry erase or vis-a-vis markers. Laminating now can also save you time in the fall, when there is always such a rush.
Other tips for ending the year strong would be to organize your files, whether they are paper copies or digitally saved on the computer. Putting hard copies into clear storage sleeves and keeping them in a binder can make them easy to find again when school starts. Sorting through your computer files and deleting those that are not needed will keep your system from becoming cluttered. Either method will make sure that when the fall comes around, you will be able to get started again as smoothly as possible!
Educational Warehouse – Wayne Location
“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” -Richard Buckminster Fuller
Spring Has Sprung
Officially, Spring started on March 21st. Unofficially, Spring is starting NOW. After a particularly brutal Winter, the new season is starting to reveal itself all around us: The weather is warmer, the trees have buds, and the animals are out and about, enjoying the sunshine along with the rest of us.
This time of the year is overflowing with possibility, especially for kids, who can finally lose the Winter coats and just go play outside. Whether they’re playing sports or playing tag, even playing make-believe, the time kids spend outdoors is time well-spent. Take advantage of the weather – and these final weeks of school, before “summer-mode” officially kicks in – with an educational activity that your kids (and your entire family) will never forget: Raising live butterflies!
Kids LOVE Butterfly Gardens!
Raising butterflies is an educational experience that every child can enjoy. There’s no better way for kids to learn about the life cycle of butterflies than by watching the entire process up close, from the comfort of their own home!
All it takes is a butterfly garden, or habitat, that makes it easy and safe for kids to observe 3 to 5 caterpillars as they transform into butterflies, at which point kids can experience the joy of releasing the butterflies into the environment.
As with any major historic moment, the Royal Wedding has become a media sensation. This week, as the streets of London are filled with reporters and journalists from media outlets around the world, the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is literally everywhere.
While undoubtedly historical, is this event more important than any other major news story, like the crisis in Libya? Of course not. But the Royal Wedding, unlike the crisis in Libya, is a rarity in the news: A positive story that people want to read about. And watch. And listen to.
And then there’s this:
That’s right, the official Royal Wedding PEZ dispensers, for anyone curious to see what the future King and Queen would look like with candy coming out of their armless torsos…
When we are lucky enough to experience historical events in real time, whether in person or via the media, those of us who have and/or teach young children are simultaneously looking for ways to make teachable moments out of such events. In this case, however, there are many people asking themselves “What, if anything, can kids here in the United States learn from all this Royal Wedding coverage?”
So TELL US: How can we make the Royal Wedding a teachable moment for kids here in the U.S.?
*** Watching it LIVE this Friday? Couldn’t care less? CAST YOUR VOTE in our Royal Wedding POLL ***
They Don’t Teach Diabetes in School
The big news today is that a small school in Chicago will no longer allow its students to bring lunch from home, forcing these elementary school children to consume the cafeteria food, or skip lunch altogether. While most parents would hardly consider the latter an option, the former is becoming less desirable to parents as well – thanks to an increase in processed food, sugar-filled beverages, and an obvious preference for cost over nutrition on the part of the school boards.
As stated in a recent NYTimes.com article:
A study of more than 1,000 sixth graders in several schools in southeastern Michigan found that those who regularly had the school lunch were 29% more likely to be obese than those who brought lunch from home.
When celebrity chef/nutritional activist Jamie Oliver showed a group of American elementary school students exactly what goes into making chicken nuggets, the Brit was completely shocked at the end result. Let’s see if you are, too: