Zionsville Times Sentinel

Commentary

July 10, 2013

Encourage learning all summer long

The crowd gathered at Sam’s was a dead giveaway. Parents searched for curriculum to keep their children busy during summer and the learning going.

“I’m worried about him losing math,” said one mom, as another poured over reading books. Several just grabbed the giant I-can-do-it-all workbook and dumped it in their cart. While the parents’ commitment to their children’s education is encouraging, they are missing some of the best actual learning opportunities available.

The best learning happens with hands-on activities, not workbooks. To be sure, many educators and parents love workbooks — for one reason. Workbooks are easy to measure. In five minutes a parent can check to see if their child is “getting it” or whether they need another worksheet.

However, worksheets seldom lead to real learning. While a child can complete the sheet, they often cannot transfer those skills to the real world. More often, the sheets kill a child’s desire to learn at all. If those same parents took advantage of summer’s break in books and provided more hands-on opportunities, they would see their children’s academic abilities grow — and they might just see a love of learning grow as well.

For math — do a project. Plant a garden, build a tree house or bird house, or create a budget for the family vacation. Then, let the kids do the math.

A worksheet asking for square feet elicits groans. Figuring the square footage for the dream tree house creates its own incentive for getting the answer right. When parents include children in planning the trip budget, they not only educate their children about how to make smart financial decisions, they increase their children’s appreciation for all that goes into making this special time possible. Older children can get online to research deals on hotels and tickets. Their internet savvy may actually pay off for parents. Even younger children can add meal prices to make sure everyone stays in budget.

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Commentary
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    April 16, 2014

  • Want better teacher ratings? Ask the kids The state may be back where it started, encumbered with a flawed teacher grading system, a year after implementing what were meant to be tough new standards. That was the general consensus of the State Board of Education days after teacher evaluation data were released last week. Of 50,000 public school teachers graded by their principals, less than one-half of 1 percent were deemed “ineffective.”

    April 16, 2014

  • Spring into warm-weather activities safely Of course. Mother Nature finally supplies a day of sunshine and warmth inspiring kiddos to run outside; moments later a bike wreck brings the fun to a screeching halt. Fortunately, a bandage and a kiss remedy the skinned knee. The incident also offers this mom an important reminder. After a winter fighting bitter cold and piles of snow we are all anxious to finally get outside. In the rush to enjoy days of sunshine, pausing to recap a few safety rules ensures the days go smoothly.

    April 16, 2014

  • Add 'ups' to your spring to prevent Injury Welcome back spring! We all missed you so much and can’t wait to be outside soaking up every wonderful thing you have to offer. Our bodies are ready for the activity, fresh air, and a healthy level of UV rays. I can’t wait to mulch, bike, plant, 5k, swing, dig ... well, maybe not mulch. As you fly recklessly into your spring favorites and to-do lists, use these tips to care for your body to maximize your efforts and keep you safe.

    April 16, 2014

  • No Internet for blind date checks in Dark Ages A friend posted on her Facebook last week that it was her 23rd anniversary. That number in itself was pretty noteworthy in this day and age, but what made it noteworthy for me was that she was married to a man she met on a blind date.

    April 16, 2014

  • Anything goes at Beef & Boards Eighty years ago native Hoosier Cole Porter wrote the music and lyrics for “Anything Goes.” Six days ago it opened at Beef & Boards dinner theater. The show, which is a fun, music-filled voyage aboard the SS American, proves yet again that there is more than corn in Indiana.

    April 9, 2014

  • House Ethics Committee faces first major probe since 1997 Steering lawmakers through a rewrite of the state’s criminal code won House Judiciary Chairman Greg Steuerwald bipartisan accolades this year.

    April 9, 2014

  • Frontier Airlines fouls, strikes out I've been fortunate to have traveled frequently — mostly in a past life, prior to returning to the newspaper business. I knew things had changed, but I'd flown since 9-11 and thought I was pretty much up to speed on policies when I traveled to Washington state at the end of March.

    April 9, 2014

  • To save or not to save ash trees? Since arriving in the United States around 15 years ago, the Emerald Ash Borer has proven to be a devastating pest of green and white ash. To date, it has killed millions of ash trees and, if left untreated, appears to result in 100 percent mortality of infested trees.

    April 9, 2014

  • Eating as if life depends on it Back in the spring of 2008, I was fortunate to have heard two nationally respected authors speak in Indy.

    April 9, 2014

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