Middle Graders

With school learning in full swing, now's the time to expand on your child's education. Seal encourages taking your child to the beach to explore tide pools, to an aquarium, or to a natural history museum if he is studying marine life at school. Or, if he's studying World War II, suggest that he ask grandparents or neighbors questions about their wartime experiences.

Everyday experiences can also become learning experiences. If you're headed to a Thai restaurant for dinner, look up Thailand on the map. "Visit a site of the Underground Railroad if there's one near your home. Go to a festival celebrating holidays related to your child's or a friend's cultural background," says Seal.

You can also use a preteen's love of shopping to help her learn about percentages. Allow her to be involved in the purchasing and to evaluate the price and how much she saved if the item was on sale. "Money is a great teaching tool," says Corneille. "Let the kids be involved in everyday experiences that involve money."

For all age groups, computers can be an excellent teaching and motivational tool. “If you can afford it, make sure your child has easy access to a computer, some minimal help in using it, and some software that’s kid-friendly — fun and educational at the same time. Don’t give him lessons or tutoring unless he asks for it,” says Deborah Stipek, Ph.D. and co-author of Motivated Minds.

But clearly, everyday experiences can breathe life into school learning. Opportunities abound to show your child the relevance of learning to life. And, says Seal, “they will help him discover out-of-school interests — which in turn will increase the passion he brings to related academic subjects.”