education outside the classroom

Exploring Education Outside the Classroom

You’ve likely heard the adage, “children are like sponges.” As parents and caregivers, we know they’re smart (and it’s not because we’re biased). It’s scientifically proven – during the first three years, a child’s brain develops rapidly. Not only does it double in size by a child’s first birthday, by the age of three the brain has reached 80 per cent of its adult volume.

It’s important to guide children to help foster development and give them opportunities to reach their full potential. While school is a wonderful place for kids to learn and excel, educators aren’t the only ones who can influence learning. In fact, most Canadian students won’t be in the school this summer, and while desks and lockers will be empty, your repertoire of educational activities doesn’t have to be. Here are five ways you can help enrich your child’s education beyond the classroom.

1. Museums and Science Centres

Why they’re good
Museums are unique in that they offer a ton of historical factoids for young minds to soak up. They provide many things you might not find in a classroom and are much more visual than what children are used to seeing at school.

What they offer
Museums give children creative opportunities and inspirational ideas. And they boast so many amazing things under one roof, including ancient artifacts, massive dinosaur displays, and stunning works of art.

2. Gardening and Nature Walks

Why they’re good
Exploring gardens and greenspace will offer many things that can’t be taught in a classroom, like hands-on learning about plants, produce and our ecosystem.

What they offer
You may not realize but exploring what nature has to offer also gives kids the opportunity to learn about social studies (think maps and farming), visual art (exploration of ornamental trees and shrubs) and nutrition (backyard gardening).

3. Sidewalk Math

Why it’s good
If you look back at simpler times – perhaps your own childhood, you’ll fondly remember hopscotch, tic tac toe and other visual games that can be created with sidewalk chalk. This simplistic activity combines so many educational components and it’s interactive, which is a bonus!

What it offers
Learning how to play these sidewalk games teaches kids about strategy, math and numbers, and can also help improve fine motor skills, especially when it comes to drawing and tracing using sometimes cumbersome chalk.

4. Library Trip

Why it’s good
Many people realize the importance and value of community libraries, including young learners. Most children enjoy what libraries have to offer, including paperback and audiobooks, games, puzzles, and activities.

What it offers
Libraries offer an array of genres for books, music and movies. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that libraries also give children the opportunity to research and choose items they feel connected to, whether it is reading books related to the solar system, or signing out a classic movie.

5. Evening Star Gazing

Why it’s good
Using a telescope or binoculars to get a closer look at the moon and stars will likely spark meaningful conversation between you and your child about everything under the sun – literally! This fun activity will help educate little ones about planets, galaxies, meteors and constellations.

What it offers
It allows kids to tap into their creative side, exploring everything the night sky has to offer. Stargazing can also help children learn about shapes, patterns and simple math like counting. Before you know it, your child will be able to identify the Big and Little Dippers.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of effort to keep young minds active. Simple activities like cooking (which includes measuring and problem-solving), family reading time (improves comprehension and reading skills), and card games (counting and strategy) will really help kids develop, especially while they’re on summer holidays. Sometimes the simplest things are overlooked but educating them outside the classroom can be easier than you think!