Educators and parents agree that a solid elementary school education is the cornerstone for subsequent development and achievement. Classroom learning, however, is not enough to ensure academic success given the fact that children spend much time outside of the classroom – especially during the summer months.
According to the National Center for Summer Learning (NCSL), all young people experience learning losses when not engaged in educational activities for extended periods of time. Commonly referred to as summer slide, this overall decline in learning leaves many parents wondering how they can keep their children’s minds actively engaged outside of the classroom.
Drawing on research that shows that exposure to the arts increases classroom performance and prevents learning losses, the Arts Education Partnership, a national coalition of arts, education, business, philanthropic and government organizations, encourages parents to incorporate the arts into their families’ everyday lives. Fun ways to do so include attending neighborhood film festivals and taking the entire family to the theater for a family-friendly performance.
By fostering an appreciation of the arts and introducing children to a variety of artistic viewpoints at a young age, parents will be able to increase their child’s academic and social development while also creating long-lasting memories that the entire family can enjoy.
Below are great ways for parents to increase their family’s exposure to the arts this summer.
Plan Family Field Trips – Take advantage of free days and reduced-priced admission to museums, theaters, film festivals and other cultural programs, such as those sponsored by Target. This summer, and throughout the entire year, there are more than 2,100 free days that Target sponsors at more than 120 museums and theaters nationwide, including the Chicago Children’s Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Dallas Children’s Theater and the California African American Museum.
Organize a Family Summer Book Club – Encourage reading at home by starting a family summer book club. Each summer month, families can go to the library together and choose the next book that they will read. As an added benefit, small rewards can be given throughout the summer to mark milestones. To encourage comprehension, ask questions about the story, having the child summarize the story and in general, make reading a more interactive family experience.
Coordinate Scavenger Hunts – Why not make learning fun for the entire neighborhood with a scavenger hunt at a local museum? Invite your child’s friends from the neighborhood to a special day filled with learning and fun surprises. Keep costs low by planning the hunts in conjunction with a Target free or reduced admission price day.
By making learning fun and taking advantage of free days at local museums and theaters, parents can reduce the effects of summer slide and create a memorable summer for the entire family.
Courtesy of Family Features