Serve Simple Summer Pastimes as Teachable Moments

Dear Parents,Dear Parents,During the summer, a break from classes does not mean all learning comes to a halt for children. Consider the various experiences your children might possibly have on a daily basis, and what could be learned from a simple outing.

Of course, one important key to learning is how parents teach their children to be observant of the world around them, and using any experience, can give their child a better understanding of how the world works.

After suggesting a simple, summer fun activity in one of my parenting classes, one mom took it to the next level and created a wonderful learning opportunity for her children.

My suggestion was to take children once a week to a new and different ice cream parlor to help get them through the blazing summer days. This creative mom took the idea several steps further.

First she invited her children to help research and list all of the independent ice cream shops in the San Gabriel Valley. By doing this, she taught them how to search for and where to find needed information.

She then took the opportunity to explain the difference between a “Mom and Pop” store and a chain store. She explained how much work and ingenuity it takes to start and maintain your own business. In doing this, she’s planting seeds about creativity and hard work.

After making their “sweet destination” list, the family set out to visit one unique ice cream parlor after another, one per week throughout the summer.

When entering each store, Mom encouraged the children to look around and notice what made it special and to verbalize what they liked. Some made comments about decorations on the walls, others felt warm welcomes by employees as they entered. She’s teaching them to be observant and notice details in their surroundings.

Then it was time to get down to business. Most ice cream shops are gracious enough to offer samples, and of course children take full advantage of this, especially these ice cream connoisseurs. After sampling and making a final, educated decision, this mom had her children take the time to explain in detail what they liked about their final choice. She’s teaching them to think analytically.

When each child had declared his or her chosen flavor, Mom helped them order by teaching them to look the ice cream employee in the eye, and clearly state what they wanted. After receiving the cone, a firm thank you was offered by each child. These important social skills and manners were taught in a pleasant setting.

As the children were enjoying their carefully selected treats, Mom took their picture. Upon returning home, they wrote a little description about this particular ice cream shop and what they liked about the experience. Mom encouraged a little reflection on their recent adventure, and the jottings were kept in a notebook to look at later. They are collecting memories.

This summer experiment proved to be so enjoyable for the entire family that they’ve decided to do it again this summer. Family traditions are born in this manner. A fun adventure is shared by all, creating close feelings between family members, and children ask to repeat the family bonding adventure.

The second time around, Mom says she will throw a little math into the mix, and let her children pay for their own ice cream. Of course, she will require them to count the change. Then maybe some comparisons will be made between various ice cream shops to see which one offers the best deal for a double dip!

There is no end to what children can learn in a good ice cream parlor with a savvy mom. One more summer might include “chores for pay” around the house, earning a little spending money to support the ice cream learning adventure.Try these well-tested ice cream parlors:

Mother Moo Creamery —  Sierra MadreCarmela — PasadenaBittersweet Treats — PasadenaScoop — Los Angeles,  York BoulevardFair Oaks Pharmacy —  South PasadenaAlma B — San MarinoFosselman’s — Alhambra21 Choices — Old Town  Pasadena What favorite ice cream spot does your family enjoy?

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