Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tech Ed: Keep Kids Learning Through the Summer

Parents and educators are well aware that children have a hard time retaining knowledge over the long summer months. And nobody wants to see students return to school in the fall unprepared to pick up where they left off the previous term. That can cause undue frustration for everyone involved. But getting kids to do “homework” during their summer vacation can be like pulling teeth. So how do you make summer learning fun? Use technology to your advantage.

Kids today are in tune with technology. It seems like even young children can use computers and cell phones to play games, which is why these gadgets can make such great teaching tools. Students who moan over summer reading may have more fun if they can track their progress, so check out the Scholastic Summer Challenge, which asks kids to log their reading minutes to try to break the world record (it also offers book lists to help them start or keep going), and the program offered by Barnes and Noble that allows kids to earn a free book for every eight they read (they turn in a tear sheet reporting their favorite part of each book to show progress). There are also websites that offer games and activities for different age groups and subjects, like Funbrain, Play Kids Games, and PBS Kids. And the best thing about utilizing the internet is that all of these websites are free.

If your kids prefer the Xbox or PS3, you may be out of luck. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of educational options for video game consoles. But a good bet is to check on Xbox Live Marketplace. If your kids like handheld devices, like the Nintendo DS, you can pick up a copy of one of several games in the Brain Age series (just make sure they are suitable for your child’s age group). You can also explore a wealth of options on your cell phone (Scrabble, The Oregon Trail), especially if you have an Apple device like the iPod, iPhone, or the new iPad. Simply log onto the iTunes store and download one of the hundreds of options listed under educational games (they range in price from free to $4.99, with the majority costing $0.99 or $1.99). This could be a great option for long car trips.

Whatever relationship your kids have with technology, they’re sure to be more amenable to summer learning if they perceive it as a game (and therefore a bit more fun than memorizing times tables, for example). So take an interest in their technology and see if you can find something that meets both your criteria for educational value and their qualifications for fun.

Alexis Montgomery is a content writer for Online Degree Programs, where you can browse through various online degree programs to find a college that suits your needs.


Kelly said...

I am a 5th grade math teacher in Mississippi. I am tutoring 8 students over the summer for one or two hours per week individually. Since I only have about 8 weeks with them (grades 4-6), I want to get the most bang for the buck out of my time. I want to focus on key concepts they need to learn to give them a firm foundation for their grade level. I want it to be fun for them, but I need to earn my money and assess that they know the material. Any suggestions?

misterteacher said...

With it being summer, I would definitely take advantage of the nice weather get outside. Look for math in nature and in some of the activities your students are doing outside. It's hard for me to be any more specific since I don't know what concepts you are teaching.

I did find this website.

Unknown said...

I am the father of two girls (3 and 5) and for their recent birthday they got Jump Start for their recent birthdays. Jump Start is a computer game with a disk for 1st grade and a disk for 2nd grade. They absolutely love it! I don't know what the cost was, but it is filled with all kinds of early math and reading games. Some they can do on their own and some I help them with, but they beg me to play it. My 5 year old will start Kindergarten in September and I am very confident this is helping her to be prepared.

Mike Theodore said...

Math-Aids.Com is a free resource for teachers and parents. You can make an unlimited number of printable math worksheets for children, the classroom or homework practice.

Tese are great to use all year around.