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Tips on Finding Learning Experiences

July 27, 1998|PHIL DAVIS

Don't let summer be a total vacation from learning. Experts say it's an excellent time to broaden a child's horizons--and build learning habits that will pay off back in the classroom.

Science camps and summer reading programs at the local library are good starts, but parents also can squeeze a little learning into just about any summer activity.

Some tips from the experts:

* Build education into a trip. Stop at national parks and historical sites anywhere you go. On the road, play math games--calculating how speed and distance determine travel time, for example--or name the capitals of states you see on the license plates of passing cars.

* Talk to your kids. Short, meaningful discussions can be squeezed into drive time. Conversations with adults build vocabulary and sharpen a child's communication skills.

* Read a book. Turn off the television and have a family reading hour. Let your children see you reading newspapers, magazines and books. Consider reading the same book as your child and then discuss it.

* Go on a nature walk at a park. Study the trees, plants, wildlife and history. Encourage children to seek out books and information on an area's natural wonders.

* Explore local history. Combine books and a visit to one of Orange County's many historic sites. Call any local historical society for information on points of interest. Visit museums and science centers.

* Try books on tape. Hearing books read with expression and enthusiasm helps spur interest in the story. Many recommended books are available on tape at the library or bookstores.

* Speaking of libraries and bookstores, many of them are no longer just places to check out or buy books. They offer opportunities to meet authors and learn history or crafts. They also list books appropriate for all ages. A comprehensive list of recommended books is also available on the Internet at

* A short daily session--just a few minutes--with flashcards keeps rote memorization of such things as math facts fresh in a child's mind. Make a game of it.

* Take a look at the fun math workbooks offered at educational-supply and office-supply stores. If you find one that seems engaging and appropriate to your child's skills, give it a try.

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