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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Try telling kids that education is fun, and see how many disgusted faces you get in response. The sad fact of the matter is that, for most kids, school is anything but fun — it’s hard, stressful, sometimes boring, and any breaks from it are eagerly awaited.

This is especially true in the summertime, when kids make their best effort to forget everything they’ve learned over the past school year. But in spite of this aversion to education, parents are capable of making learning fun. The key is getting creative and taking advantage of your local resources. Places like the Chickasaw Cultural Center have a variety of educational tools and resources that can deliver fun, educational experiences.

Here are several activities that can keep your child’s brain ticking during his or her downtime.

Public library programs

Most public libraries have educational gatherings and other events geared toward children — particularly in the summertime. Call or visit your local library to get a schedule of the different events being sponsored. Have your kids enter periodic reading contests or other activity groups sponsored through the library. Or simply visit the library and take advantage of the books and computers available for entertainment and education purposes.

Local zoo & aquarium

Are your kids interested in animals? Hardly any kid views trips to the zoo as intensive educational labor, but in the process of seeing so many different animals you have many opportunities to educate your children about different species, animal behavior, environmental issues and more.

Museums and science centers

Museums can focus on a wide range of topics — natural history, local heritage, aviation, cars, even obscure subjects like kites — and all of them offer in-depth learning experiences for your children. Similarly, many science centers and children’s museums have interactive learning activities that provide hands-on educational experiences to your kids. These can be great venues to get your kids active and moving while learning basic concepts behind today’s science and technology.

Nature centers

If your kids love the outdoors, take them to a local nature center and use the excursion to get some exercise while they learn. Go on a hike while exploring the natural environment. You can even make a game out of it — encourage your kids to keep track of how many different leaves, birds or animals they see during their visit. If you have a field book or a nature guide, you can even prompt your kids to identify the wildlife they find on the excursion.

Brain games

Brain games come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re perfect for a rainy day or any other day where you’re at home. Jigsaw puzzles and memory games are great ways to stimulate your child’s mind, as are crossword puzzles and even trivia games. Participate alongside your kids and supplement their learning experience without turning it strictly into a classroom setting.

Learning doesn’t have to end just because your kids are out of school. Instead, take the opportunity to provide exciting learning experiences in new settings. And don’t underestimate the fun parents can have by taking part in the education of children — you might be amazed at how clever and quick to catch on your children are.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want their kids to learn.

Image courtesy of Kathy Cassidy