In a recent post, I cited current research that highlights exercise's ability to improve learning, memory, and cognitive abilities. In a related idea, it's worth remembering a simple way to improve learning that teachers and parents have known for decades -- learning by participation!
We know that we learn better and retain more when we do something, rather than resort to rote memorization. This may include actual physical participation or virtual participation via books and other media.
On the simplest level, think back to all the great books you've read and all that you've learned. Much of my interest in the American Revolution came from reading Johnny Tremain. I first learned about the Mississippi River from Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. In terms of actual participation, I'm not sure that I truly grasped how big dinosaurs were until I took a field trip to the museum and saw real dinosaur fossils in person.
This is the very reason teachers promote field trips to museums and historical sites. Kids walk through real-life classrooms and remember the information for years to come.
Here are some suggestions that you can do with your kids to reinforce learning, particularly over the summer break:
1. Visit your state capital -- tons to teach about geography, architecture, and government
2. Take a trip to a national park -- science, animals, and nature
3. Go grocery shopping and cook together -- nutrition and math (number of items, weight, and cost)
4. Tour a baseball field -- history and math (dimensions, capacity, and stats galore)
5. Visit a local fire station or police station -- health and safety
6. Attend a camp -- science and nature, sailing, specific sports, or general traits like sharing and cooperation
7. Help prepare their summer reading list -- history, adventure, etc.
This is one of the themes behind Adventure to Fitness. Our idea is to take kids on adventures around the world, from the ancient Mayan Peninsula to the Great Wall of China. Along the way, kids learn history lessons, world geography, new vocabulary words, and lessons in health & nutrition. Plus, on average, kids walk the equivalent of around 1.7 miles during one of our 30-minute episodes. We know how much kids love digital media. We want to use this love for positive goals -- to teach them and get them moving! We hear from excited teachers and parents every week about how well it works.
What do your kids like to do and what activities do you use to get them learning? Share your thoughts on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page or find us on Twitter, @AdventureToFit, to continue the conversation!