by Study.com editors
Are you the parent of a tween, working through a challenging transition to homeschooling after a school closure? Even as the end of the school year approaches and tweens and their families contemplate a summer unlike those that have come before, maintaining their interest in learning – whether learning at home, in a classroom, or elsewhere – is paramount. Here are six clever solutions to keep children occupied, learning and having fun all at the same time.
Since tweens are known for having both lots of energy and vivid imaginations, outdoors is an ideal setting for them to learn. Even if they are stuck on a wrap-around porch during a thunderstorm, encourage them to play a game in which they spot ten different living creatures, anything from birds and bugs to dogs passing by. Instruct them to write down the list on paper or keep track using their laptops. They can also use the internet or an encyclopedia to look up the scientific names of creatures they spot. The next day, have them repeat the process and compare the two lists for similarities and differences. This can be extended to local plant or tree identification after animals!
Take a Virtual Tour
These days many aquariums, museums, and national parks have virtual tours. Guide your tweens in writing a short story in which they pretend to be their favorite marine animal, detailing what underwater life is like. Challenge them to recreate a famous painting, only in their version it will include members of your family; imagine yourself front and center in American Gothic, or among the guests at the Luncheon of the Boating Party. Or reflect on nature by directing them to write about a fictional hike they took in a national park, including how they escaped from a wild animal.
Be an Inventor
This is a good chance for your child to invent something creative and useful. Have them design a simple computer program that shows how everyone at a local mall can walk to remain six feet from one another and calculate how many people might fit without things getting too crowded.
Experiment in the Kitchen
In the kitchen, have your tween conduct a science experiment to determine whether pancakes with no lumps, a few lumps, or a lot of lumps in the batter cook and taste the best to your family. Next, have them juxtapose eating with paper plates instead of dining on dishes: they can factor in the cost of dish detergent and time required to load the dishwasher to decide which is better at each meal.
Interview an Expert
Your child could interview a grandparent or family friend who went through the Great Depression, participated in the Civil Rights Movement, or served in the National Guard. Then have them create a list comparing and contrasting the way things were in those situations versus the way things have unfolded during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. Other interview subjects could include having your budding reporter “ask an expert” or conduct a “guest lesson” about a particular subject. For instance, many local meteorologists may reply to them on social media; they could request a short interview about the weather in your town versus the weather in a major city your child wants to visit someday.
Get Creative and Stay Flexible
There are plenty of ways to pursue learning at home, whether during a school closure due to the coronavirus pandemic or a regularly scheduled summer break, so make the most of this opportunity for independent learning. One final beneficial tip is to encourage your child to do mindfulness exercises, such as slow walking, meditation, and deep breathing (you may even want to join them when you have time!). This will help to channel and focus all that boundless, restless energy into positive at-home learning results for your entire family.
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