In today’s digital world, technology tools are at our fingertips—and our children’s, too. If your family has a tablet, computer, smartphone or all of the above, your child has access to all kinds of great learning programs. This summer break, you can offer your child opportunities to learn on the go, while beating the heat inside, during a family road trip, or just about anywhere you can access the internet.
Build a website. These days, building a website doesn’t require computer programming skills, but rather, creativity and a willingness to learn. There are lots of website builders out there that offer customizable templates. Your child’s summer learning project could be to create a website—the budding artist or photographer could showcase his or her work, or the foodie could create a recipe blog. What about a family blog to which each member of the family contributes posts a few times a week, sharing your summer’s adventures?
Download learning apps to practice skills. While reviewing homework and assignments from the prior year is an excellent way to keep your child fresh, if you didn’t save your child’s work, there are other great alternatives to deter summer learning loss. Check out Reading Rockets for some of the best apps for vocabulary, writing and spelling practice and reading comprehension. Common Sense Media (free) ranks all kinds of apps, including math apps with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, geometry and logic games and practice tools. Before the school year ends, also ask your child’s teacher for recommendations.
Learn to program. For imaginative and mathematically or technically inclined students, websites like Scratch (www.scratch.mit.edu) are excellent learning tools. Created for children ages 8 to 16 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Scratch is a “programming language and an online community where children can program and share interactive media such as stories, games and animation.” Other websites to check out include www.alice.org, a 3D programming environment that makes it easier for students to learn object-oriented programming, and Hackety.com which teaches students the Ruby programming language. For beginners, check out apps such as Lightbot Jr. ($2.99) coding puzzle (and later, Lightbot) and Cato’s Hike ($4.99).
Download a podcast (or five). Whether your family is planning a few road trips this summer or your child enjoys audio learning, podcasts can be great fun for children of all ages. Your child can download and listen to podcasts on any mobile device or computer. What interests your child? Try searching the iTunes store for podcasts on various topics (www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts). Also, check out these great podcasts: Bookwink (which reviews books for kids ages 8 to 14/ Grades 3-8), Global Wonders (which introduces children to different world cultures), Reading Rockets Meet the Author (which interviews top children’s book authors and illustrators) and Brains On! (a science podcast).
Think about what your child is into. The great news about the world we live in today is that there are so many mobile technologies that if your child has an interest, there may very well be an app or other technology program to teach or fuel that interest. Is your child curious about learning a new language? Check out one of the many foreign language learning apps out there such as Little Pim. Is your child a hands-on learner who enjoys creating? Don’t miss DIY, an app that has children complete skill-based, hands-on challenges.
Technology has changed education forever—and has provided today’s students some incredible learning opportunities. This summer break, explore the many programs available to your child and incorporate a few such tools into your learning repertoire. Not only will you encourage your child to keep learning this summer, you will also be emulating 21st century classroom teaching.
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