School may be out for summer, but as a parent, you can ensure there are plenty of opportunities for your children to learn new things throughout the vacation.
Start with something fun, practical, and vital to health and wellness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. But you can fight this trend with a hands-on lesson in nutrition.
“Gardening is a great way to bridge the summer learning gap and promote a healthy lifestyle,” said Shari Brown, the winner of 2012 Toyota Teacher of the Year Award. “Not only will you be improving your family’s nutrition by incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into your meals, you’ll be exposing your children to a subject they may not learn about in school.”
Brown, a North Carolina educator, was honored by the National Center for Family Literacy for her work helping families learn together. She plans to use her grant award to create a community garden.
Brown is encouraging families everywhere to learn together while gardening. She has several tips to help you learn in the garden:
—Involve your children in the process of picking out what type of plants to grow. Then develop fun, nutritional meals together, such as veggie pizza and fruit salad.
—Bugs are cool! Get your kids excited and curious about crucial garden critters with library books, Internet sites, your local science center, videos and bug games.
—Read stories about gardening with your children. Make a scrapbook about the experience of growing your garden.
—Emphasize gardening and nutrition lessons in your home, too. Get your kids watering the house plants and making sure they have enough sunlight. Teach your kids what is compostable and have a discussion over dinner about where all the food on their plate comes from, not just what you’ve grown yourself. Expose them to a wide variety of new fruits, vegetables, plants and seasonings.
The fruits and veggies you harvest will be delicious, but your child’s knowledge will be the most important thing you grow in the garden this summer.