For some kids, learning may become a bad word — especially for those who are struggling in school. They may connect it with another so-called bad word: school.

You can teach your child that learning also takes place outside of the classroom — and is an exciting and important part of life.

Try taking your child to places that are just plain fun — and show him that learning happens everywhere:

Go to the zoo.

If there’s a zoo in your town or city, spend an afternoon visiting your child’s favorite animals. Many zoos are divided by continents, with separate sections for animals from different parts of the world — from Africa to Asia to the Arctic. Talk about why polar bears have white fur (to blend in with the snow for protection from predators), when lions hunt (at night), and what koalas eat (usually eucalyptus leaves). Take the time to read the exhibit signs to your child, and when you learn something new, make sure to tell him: “I didn’t know that! I learned something today.”

Visit a museum.

Museums don’t have to be a big snooze, especially if you live in a big city with kid-friendly exhibits and activities. Some of the best bets are science, technology, and natural history museums, which often have exhibits that let kids experiment or touch things. 

Play outdoors.

A day at the park or the beach can be filled with learning. At the beach, point out the shells you find on the sand or the waves rolling in. At the park, talk about the flowers, trees, and other natural wonders you see. And remember, you can also ask your child questions (you don’t have to know all the answers — just asking questions teaches children that being curious is OK): Why is the squirrel the same color as the tree’s bark? What do seagulls eat? What makes waves? What do bees get from flowers?

Watch a movie.

After watching a movie together, talk with your child about what you just saw. Ask him: Which character would you most like to be and why? Why do you think that person was so mean? Would you have done something differently? Would you like to live inside that movie? No matter what question you ask, it will get your child thinking — which is the whole idea of learning.

 

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