Kids can lose a surprising amount of information over summer vacation. Up to a month of mathematics instruction to be more precise or, for children who come from low-income households, up to three months of reading comprehension according to Harris M. Cooper, a Professor of Education at Duke University. But pulling away from the tradition of summer vacation is a hard thing to do for many Americans to do. We’ve had knowledge that the “system is broken” for more than a century now actually, first documented as a problem in 1906 according to Time magazine, without coming up with a solution that impacts the greater part of the school-age population.
With that said however, you as parents, can still play an active role in keeping your child’s skills sharp during the summer months while also banking on some quality family time. Below is a list of family trips that incorporate learning and everything fun about summer too. Its time for an eduVACation!
A Lesson in Biology- Congress Avenue Bridge: Austin, TX
Did you know that bats are the only mammals that can fly? Or that a single bat can eat more than 1,000 mosquitos in just one hour? How about teaching your kids a lesson on echolocation while watching more than 1.5 million bats fly out of Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge at night? There are plenty of interesting things to learn about bats and not only is this natural event free, it also occurs every night in the summer.
A View of History, Politics, and Architecture- State Capitol: Austin, TX
Of course, if you are already in Austin, you might as well hit this historic landmark, but don’t just visit and take pictures outside. Did you know that the construction of the capitol was paid for in land and not dollars? And the cornerstone of the building was laid on March 2, 1885, Texas Independence Day– a perfect lead into some Texas history. Who knows more about Texas history? You, or your children? Take the quiz here to brush up on some of those history skills before you go. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/jzlph
Lunch with an Astronaut- Johnson Space Center: Houston, TX
Make time to “space” out this summer at the Johnson Space Center and have lunch with an astronaut. This science center offers plenty of hands-on exhibits and unique attractions that will keep both you and your child’s mind active. And did you know that your child is more likely to retain information when you get involved too? More on that to come.
Dino-mite Experience at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science: Dallas, TX
This summer the science museum in Dallas has a very, very big exhibit. Ok, the exhibit isn’t big but it does feature “The World’s Largest Dinosaurs.” What makes it unique however, is that the exhibit itself is very concise and perfect for young kids who may not have the longest attention spans. Focused around one main dinosaur who stands in all of her splendor at the center of the room, this exhibit is almost personable, well explained, and super interactive.
Of course everyday can be a learning day with your kids. Do you know what some of the smartest and most accomplished kids have in common? Their parents talk to them! Kids learn more when they get to play a more active role while talking with their parents. Back and forth conversations between parents and children not only drastically improve language skills, they also help children establish that their thoughts matter, turning them into more assertive students as they get older according to Time magazine. And, kids whose parents talk about numbers specifically are more likely to perform better on state standardized tests in that subject.
Other studies prove that parent participation in academics is more effective than every other aspect of school including school programs and teachers. That makes sense when you calculate that kids only spend about 15 percent of their time in school. So why not make this summer a learning adventure for both you and your child? It could be beneficial for your future too! Did you know that learning new information and skills could help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease? Does that mean the five minutes it took you to read this article could have just bought you five more minutes in the future? Something to think about!