Struggling in school can affect a child’s confidence in and out of the classroom. While tutoring helps close the gap, hiring a tutor isn’t the only thing parents can do to build their child’s intellect and self-esteem. By exposing children to learning opportunities that are as fun as they are educational, parents can improve their children’s school performance and make learning a little less scary. These six rainy-day activities are perfect for doing just that.
For Elementary Age Students
1. Math bingoBy turning math into a game, parents can reinforce math concepts in a fun, approachable way. Math bingo is the perfect game for elementary schoolers. Kids are supplied with bingo cards where each square is occupied by a number. Parents call out equations, and kids try to score a bingo by marking the right answers. Parents can make their own bingo cards or let kids play math bingo online.
2. Hands-on scienceEarly learning tends to focus on reading and arithmetic skills, but what about science? According to EdSource, the earlier children are exposed to science concepts, the more likely they are to excel in science later on. Develop your young elementary schooler’s spatial reasoning and engineering skills with fun science activities like constructing with Legos, Jenga, and magnets.
For Middle School Age Students
3. Online music lessonsMiddle school is a great time for kids to start learning a musical instrument. Not only that, but according to Pacific Standard, music lessons can improve children’s language-based reasoning, organizational skills, and overall academic achievement. The benefits are especially pronounced for children with learning differences like ADHD and autism. While younger kids benefit from in-person instruction, middle school students can learn an instrument through online lessons and instructional videos. There’s no need to rush out and buy an instrument. If you have an older woodwind instrument or guitar, make sure you have some new reeds or strings on hand, then set your child up with some online instruction and see if an interest is sparked.
4. Movie makingThese days, you don’t need a fancy video camera to record high-quality footage. Kids can shoot video with their smartphones and make their own mini-movies with the help of video-editing apps. Have your middle schooler pull out old toys and shoot a stop-motion film. Making a movie will challenge your children’s storytelling skills and give them something more educational to do with their smartphone than scrolling through social media.
For High School Age Students
5. Real estate lesson plansHigh school is the age where kids start to feel like what they’re learning in school doesn’t matter for the “real world.” Show them that’s not true with an introduction to real estate. As Redfin points out, "Real estate is a complex field that requires skills in math, science, English, social studies and home economics. By incorporating real estate-based lessons into your curriculum, you can help students gain valuable skills in practical math application, presentation giving, forming a persuasive argument, earth science and so much more."
6. Creative writingAs the arts continue to disappear from public school curricula, students crave outlets for creativity. However, they don’t always have the tools to express themselves. Use a rainy day as an opportunity to exercise your teen’s creativity with creative writing exercises. Now Novel offers a variety of writing prompts to get teens started and challenge their writing ability.
Sitting down with school books and worksheets isn’t the only way for kids to learn. While they’re not a substitute for formal instruction, activities like these are perfect for igniting a passion for learning in kids who feel discouraged by their difficulties in the classroom. Whether you need an activity for a rainy day, summer break, or just a fun way to spend time with your kids, these six activities are an excellent place to start.
Image by geralt on Pixabay
Today's blog entry was guest penned by Sarah Bengtson of Iowa City Moms Blog.
Over the course of this week I, along with many parents of young children, have gotten some pretty disturbing information about a character called “Momo” who is supposedly appearing in videos geared towards children on YouTube and YouTube kids. Depending on the account you read, the character (a spooky looking image based on a Japanese statue with large eyes, chicken feet, and stringy black hair) either appears in the middle of the cartoon and encourages children to harm themselves, harm others, kill their families, and even kill themselves.
This is spooky and terrifying stuff! I have two young kids, one of whom loves to watch toy unboxing videos and video game streams on YouTube Kids. I don’t want them exposed to this kind of garbage!
But here’s the deal…stuff like this has been around for a long time. YouTube is full of extremely nasty content of many different forms. YouTube Kids is better, but stuff still gets through their filters. Some sources state that nearly 1 in 4 children have inadvertently seen pornography on the internet.
Chain letters that threatened harm and bad fortune if you didn’t send a copy to 8 of your friends within 24 hours were around long before YouTube. Chain emails came next. Stupid viral challenges come and go. (Remember Tide Pods?) The difference now is that kids have more and more opportunities to interact online and participate in social media and the digital world.
The dangers now are more visual, more persistent, and available at a younger and younger age.
We as adults must remember that if these images are appearing in children’s videos, they aren’t appearing there as a result of some sinister magic or evil spirit. They’re being deliberately put there by people intent on spreading fear and hysteria among adults and children alike. Ironically, there are probably MORE examples of the Momo character being inserted into hijacked Peppa Pig videos in the last few days than there were before, as a direct result of the viral sharing that has been going on about the supposed danger.
So I’m not freaking out about a fictional character named Momo, just as I’m not going to freak out about the BoogeyMan, or ghosts, or TidePod challenges, or bumps in the night (well…maybe the BoogeyMan).
Instead, I’ve already started doing what experts recommend: talking to my children in age appropriate terms about being safe online and in their digital dealings.
This evening we had a discussion where I asked my oldest if he had ever seen anything online or on YouTube that was scary or had frightened him. I deliberately did NOT show him the Momo image or ask him if he had heard about it, as I wanted to hear an unprompted answer. He looked a little annoyed at me, and assured me that he had not seen anything scary in his toy unboxing videos. Then we talked about what he would do if he ever did see something that scared him online (turn it off, come tell mom and dad). We also talked about how you don’t need to believe everything that you see on the internet, because lots of it is just not true.
While I’d love to box my kids up and keep them from being exposed to all the horrors and dangers of the internet and beyond, I recognize that in this day and age it just isn’t possible. If they don’t interact with YouTube at home, they might at school, or at a friend’s house, or talk with others who have seen content that I would find objectionable.
So I’m choosing not to participate in the hysteria of Momo.
I’m not sharing the warnings on Facebook, and I’m not showing my kids the image of Momo. If they bring it up, we’ll talk about it then. But I will recognize that, like it or not, we live in a digital age. Just like it was part of my parents’ responsibility to teach me how to use a pay phone to call home in an emergency, it is part of my responsibility to equip my kids to be good digital citizens, staying safe in the physical as well as the virtual world.
5 Ways to Keep your Kids Safe Online
References for keeping kids and teens safe online
7 Ways to Keep Kids Safer Online
Forbes article about the “Momo Challenge”
Keeping Children Safe Online
Tips for Non-Techy Parents
AAP: Social Media and Sexting
AAP: Children and Media Tips