Encourage your child’s hobbies - Tucson Local Media: El Sol

Encourage your child’s hobbies

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Posted: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 3:00 am

Children, as much as anyone, need opportunities to rest and recreate. But parents should take note that long stretches of little mental activity can impede learning for children.

It’s also a good idea for kids to develop hobbies and interests outside of school. By being exposed to different environments, children learn how to adjust to new situations and people. They also have the opportunity to shine in areas that may not be offered in school, like wilderness training or rock climbing.

You can encourage your children’s interests and hobbies by taking them to museums and plays, enrolling them in a learning center with themed activities, teaching them a sport, and making a healthy picnic together to enjoy in the park.

In fact, an increasing stream of evidence supports the importance of keeping children’s brains engaged in learning activities outside of school, according to a survey conducted by KinderCare Learning Centers, the nation’s largest private provider of early childhood education.

“When teachers test children’s abilities after summer break, we often see the steepest decline in skills like reading and math,” said Megan Riede, senior director of education programs for KinderCare Learning Centers. “Fun and engaging extracurricular activities not only help boost learning, but can positively affect children’s motivation, self-esteem, and confidence.”

Here are some other tips parents can use to keep kids’ minds sharp:

• Develop a reading plan with your child. Make weekly trips to the library and help your child create a list of books to read based on their interests. 

• Turn a grocery store trip into a math lesson by having your child compare prices and tell you the best deal.

• Change the classic road trip “Are we there yet?” question into a challenge by giving the vehicle’s speed and remaining trip distance, and having your child estimate your arrival time.

• Enroll your child in a program that balances interesting and educational content with group play. For example, KinderCare Learning Centers created 12 uniquely themed camps like “Scienteriffic” and “Wilderness 101” that offer a balanced approach to learning and fun.

• Make meal and snack preparation a chance to practice reading (recipes) and working with fractions (have older children double or halve a recipe).

For more ideas on extracurricular activities that will boost your children’s learning, visit www.kindercare.com

Then make a plan to add more variety to your children’s mental life. They’ll thank you for it.

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