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Fun ways your child can practice lifelong learning at home
Your child can benefit greatly from lifelong learning, but it might not be the first thing on their mind right now. They’ve been eagerly waiting for summer when they can finally log off school. They’ve been home for weeks, becoming more restless by the minute. As the parent, you’re facing a bit of a dilemma. You want your child to enjoy themselves, but you also want them to keep their minds stimulated and engaged. That raises the question: how can you make lifelong learning interesting for your child at home? Luckily, learning does not always have to feel like learning! It can feel like playing, creating, or relaxing. There are many ways for your child to practice lifelong learning while enjoying themselves! By the time September rolls around, your child will go back to school refreshed from their summer and ready for a new school year. All they have to do is try out these activities. Play Games Games are sure to stay a part of your child’s life for many years to come. This is completely okay! It’s a way for them to destress, socialize, and have fun, but also build critical and creative thinking skills. Almost every game includes an educational element—you just need to know what to look for and set reasonable expectations. Here are a few to consider: Animal Crossing teaches community and world-building as well as survival basics. Minecraft sharpens basic coding skills in a fun, interactive way. Mario Kart asks your child to think about traction, acceleration, handling, and more when customizing a vehicle, which they can then test out on the racecourse. Classics such as chess, Battleship, Chinese checkers, and Connect 4 build strategy and logic skills. Modern digital games do this, as well, such as Fortnite and League of Legends. Mystery games, like Professor Layton or Nancy Drew by Her Interactive, involve complex puzzles and interesting facts about cultures, people, history, and careers. Mad Libs tests your child’s understanding of parts of speech. You can buy the books, find printables online, or play with your Alexa or Google device. Wordscapes and Words with Friends help with vocabulary 2048 helps with math. For more math activities, click here! With gamification, they may learn even faster than if they’d read a book on the subject. Of course, reading does have its own advantages, so your child should try to... Consume Information in Many Different Formats “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” —Dr. Seuss Books are the best way to learn, but they don’t have to be tedious textbooks! There are many children’s series that serve to both entertain and educate, such as the science-based The Magic School Bus and history-based The Royal Diaries. Another example is The Series of Unfortunate Events, which often defines fun vocabulary words like “ersatz,” or “replacement.” All books improve comprehension and emotional intelligence. Encourage your child to read about new characters and situations they haven’t experienced themselves. If your child is less enthusiastic about reading, consider changing up the format; graphic novels can get even the most reluctant reader engaged and practicing their literacy skills. The pictures help readers who struggle to envision scenes, the sound effects are good lessons on onomatopoeia, and the heavy use of dialogue teaches them about voices and narration. If your child is more of an auditory learner, they can listen to audiobooks or learn new things through informational podcasts like “But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids.” If your child prefers visuals, they can watch animated versions of books or educational videos. To minimize distractions, you may want to consider education-based platforms like National Geographic Kids or TedTalks rather than YouTube. Pick Up a New Skill Your child can also learn new skills that go beyond academics. They should see that learning isn’t only about facts or equations but also about personal interests and growth. Consider a new sport or activity, such as skateboarding, or a new language, such as American Sign Language (ASL). See if you can do this activity with them or encourage other members of the family. For example, children love to talk in “secret languages.” By having someone to learn a new language and socialize with, your child will feel motivated and improve faster. They can also turn to fun apps like Duolingo, which uses gamification in the form of daily check-ins, rewards, and rankings to encourage habitual use! Practicing something can be a great way to absorb information, so... Get Hands-on Some children prefer learning actively and using their hands to reading facts and taking notes. If this is the case, a fun way for your child to learn something new is to become physically involved. If they want to learn about a historical battle, they can recreate the battlefield with papier-mâché or reenact it in a stage performance. Learn a little physics by riding a roller coaster, understand gravity a little better by participating in an egg drop contest, get a deeper understanding of coding by building a robot, learn a little chemistry and math through cooking. Just like how your child might have a study space to really focus on their schoolwork, you can create a “makerspace” at home for their more creative DIY endeavors. Integrating lessons in creative ways can be more meaningful than absorbing information through books or videos. What’s more, they may come out of the summer with life skills that go beyond academics. What else can they do this summer? They can... Soak In the Fun In JEI's Summer Series Without even leaving the house, your child can participate in special summer programs including the JEI Summer Series at participating locations! Our learning centers are now offering various exciting activities for the summertime. Your child can participate in our reading, writing, and critical thinking events and workshops. This way, they can keep learning, socialize with others, and have a blast. — There are so many possibilities out there. Play some Mad Libs with your child—easily accessible with Alexa or Google Home! Challenge your child to a cook-off! Encourage your child to participate in the JEI Summer Series! Lifelong learning can become an everyday part of your child’s life through creative activities like these, so start today. For more information on the JEI Summer Series, contact your local JEI Learning Center.
Activities for children who love (or hate) math
There are some children who love everything about math and numbers! Look at Katherine Johnson, former NASA mathematician, who earned the title The Girl Who Loved to Count because she counted everything she could since she was little. Whether your child is another Katherine Johnson or not as big of a numbers lover, there are a couple activities every child is sure to enjoy. These games ask for your child to exercise their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, but in such a way as to make it enjoyable for everyone! After trying these activities, they might stop saying, “I’m not good at math,” and start saying, “Math is fun!” Sudoku A popular numbers game, Sudoku asks that each box, vertical line, and horizontal line of 9 squares each consists of the numbers 1 to 9 in any order. Each number will be used once, and there are a variety of levels so this task can go from relaxing to challenging based on your child’s mood and level of critical thinking. Sudoku asks your child to use their logic skills to see how this number puzzle fits together. What strategies will they discover? You can find printables here! Nonograms Also known as Paint by Numbers, Nonograms provide you with a grid. Each row and column has numbers that tell you how many boxes in a row should be shaded. For example, if one row has the numbers 2 and 8, that would mean that anywhere in that row, there should be 2 shaded boxes in a row followed later by 8 shaded boxes in a row. It is the same for columns, usually resulting in one complete picture like pixel art. Your child will have to think of strategies to get to that end result! You can find printables here! Hidato Another logic puzzle, Hidato asks your child to connect consecutive numbers from 1 to however many spaces are provided. The board can take any shape or form, but fills in a few of the boxes with numbers. Then, much like connecting the dots, your child fills in the empty spaces with consecutive numbers to get to the next one. For example, Hidato may start with 1 and the next number given in another space is 5, so your child has to fill in the boxes from 2 to 4 until they reach that 5. Your child has to make sure they fill in the right boxes, and this could involve some trial and error. You can play Hidato here! 2048 2048 is a popular game online! It requires your child to slide around boxes that, upon collision, will add up if they are the same number. For example, if you collide an 8 with another 8, that will add up to 16, which has to collide with another 16 to get to 32, and so on. The end game is to get to the number 2048 without filling up the space with unusable boxes. There is limited room for movement for sliding and colliding, so your child has to test out the best way to get to 2048! You can play 2048 here! Kakuro A little more complex, Kakuro can test out your child’s adding skills! The purpose is to fill in the grids so two numbers in a row or column add up to whatever the number outside of the grids dictates. For example, if the row wants the sum of 24, that means the two numbers in the row have to add up to 24, and if the column wants the sum of 12, the two numbers in that column need to add up to 12. This means that one of those numbers will have to add up to both 24 and 12. This one will be a bit more math heavy! You can play Kakuro here! Whether your child loves or hates numbers, these logic puzzles are so fun and engaging that everyone will put on their thinking caps and have a great time! If your child struggles with some levels or wants to keep advancing, they should continue working on their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. JEI Learning Center can help! We have a program, Brain Safari, that specializes specifically in this area. It uses word problems, math, and puzzles to engage your child’s creative mind and logical thinking, so they can excel at whatever they set their mind on. Contact a center near you today to ask them about our Brain Safari program and JEI Remote Learning opportunities!
Adventurous books for sixth and seventh graders
If your child is in the sixth or seventh grade, right now is the time for them to read as much as they can! Reading is like exercise, the more you do it, the stronger you'll get! Your child should start building their reading stamina now so they're ready for high school, where they'll receive more reading assignments. Reading can have a lot of advantages, including better comprehension skills, a higher emotional quotient, and stronger focus — and the best part is, it makes learning fun! To reap all of the benefits of this pastime, check out the list of books below, perfect for sixth or seventh graders. Harriet the Spy | Louise Fitzhugh Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. In her notebook, she writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends. Then, Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Before she can stop them, her friends have read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she’s written about each of them. Will Harriet find a way to put her life and her friendships back together? James and the Giant Peach | Roald Dahl James Trotter loses his parents in an accident and is forced to live miserably with his two wicked aunts. Then, James is given some magic crystals that give him hope. When he accidentally spills these crystals on an old peach tree, strange things begin to happen. A peach starts to grow and grow until James is able to climb inside and escape his awful aunts! Through this adventure, he makes some interesting friends and finds a place where he belongs. The Little Prince | Antoine de Saint-Exupéry A golden-haired little prince meets a pilot stranded in the desert. He tells the pilot that he was born on an asteroid and has met a great many strange and interesting characters. They bond over a drawing of a sheep inside a box and try to survive together in the desert by finding water. A year to the day after his arrival, the boy believes he has figured out a way back to his home on the asteroid. The Giver | Lois Lowry Jonas’ world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back. I, Juan de Pareja | Elizabeth Borton de Treviño When the great Velázquez was painting his masterpieces at the Spanish court in the seventeenth century, his colors were expertly mixed and his canvases carefully prepared by his slave, Juan de Pareja. In a vibrant novel, which depicts both the beauty and the cruelty of the time and place, Elizabeth Borton de Treviño tells the story of Juan, who was born a slave and died an accomplished and respected artist. Favorite Sherlock Holmes Detective Stories | Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Throughout the annals of literature, there is one detective who reigns supreme—Mr. Sherlock Holmes of 221B Baker Street, London. From that celebrated address, Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson set out to solve the most difficult cases and bring to justice the master criminals of Victorian England. Holmes uses his characteristic cleverness to close every confounding mystery, taking you on one exciting adventure after another! - Your middle school student will be ready for high school in no time with these thrilling reads! Ranging from historical fiction to thrilling mystery, they will be sure to captivate your child. Reading develops creativity and critical thinking, preparing your child to take on more challenges as they move on to high school. They can also refer to our recommended books for past gradesdepending on their level and how avid a reader they are. In the end, no matter where your child is right now, they can always advance to the next level; JEI Learning Center has complete faith in their abilities! We can help them get there through our State Standard-aligned JEI Reading & Writing program, which ensures your child understands not only the language but also the story. This program is best paired with JEI English for overall proficiency in the language arts. Contact a center near you and help your child learn from home with JEI Remote Learning!