Ask an Expert: Using technology to promote summer learning

Originally posted on Chalkbeat by Karen Sorensen

Q. My daughter is a technology geek. Of course, she spends a lot of time on games, but I’d like to make sure she’s learning this summer, too. Ideas?

Summer Blues: There’s an app for that

As your kids are cheering summer – dreaming of endless hours of TV, Elitches, the pool, and hanging with friends –you, as a parent, shouldn’t despair. You know skill retention during these long summer months is important. Now how, you ask, am I going to interest my kids in school-like activities while summer sun and fun beckons out the window?

Fortunately, your answer is in your kids’ other great love: technology. Summer is a great time for your child to explore their interest and passions and work on core academic and 21st Century skills. The mobile device is the perfect tool to make this happen.

So, where do I start? Your first step is to identify three to five of your child’s top interests. If you are unsure, simply take some time to ask him or her questions about what she is thinking or doing, observe your child at play, and be aware of what they are talking about. Once you’ve made your list, narrow it to the top three. These will be your areas of focus for iPhone or iPad applications.

Next, have (or help) your child download at least four e-books on those three subjects. Make sure that the books are grade-level appropriate or just above his or her current skill level. Try to get a mix of non-fiction and fiction so your child practices reading both styles.

Then, visit YouTube and have your child (with your help as needed) find videos on his or her areas of interest and save them. You can use these videos to supplement or extend on the e-book content or simply as a change of pace when “I’m-bored” starts to echo through your halls.

Finally, download apps that are available for your child to use either for your Android device through Google Play or your Apple device through the iTunes store. The following are some apps to consider:

Summer can be a great time for learning to happen outside the hustle and bustle of the school schedule. Enjoy this time with your child and add to your child’s summer break fun by exploring new learning worlds.

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.

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