Three ways to learn together: education beyond the classroom - MetroFamily Magazine
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Three ways to learn together: education beyond the classroom

by Callie Collins

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

Oklahoma City family fun has its way of teaching children what they need to know.

Education has been top of mind in so many ways this past year. The budget crisis, what’s right, what’s wrong and how to make it better have all been pressing topics.

How parents can add to their children’s educational experience has also come up for discussion.

Being involved in the community is an important aspect of every child’s education I can recommend any day of the week. Other than that, it really depends on the child.

My oldest son, Sam, is in fourth grade and the simplest way I’ve found to help is to ask him: What would you like me to do at your school? I hesitated to even ask because I don’t have extra hours to dedicate, between work and my other two children.

The answer wasn’t a weekly commitment or even a monthly additional responsibility. 

“Could you just cook for my class sometime?” he asked. “I want to take gallo pinto so my friends know what Costa Rican food is all about.”

Sam mentioned that all of his friends were bringing a dish that represented their ethnic heritage the day before Thanksgiving break.

Gallo pinto. Ethnic heritage. Yes, that’s doable,” I replied.

I got up at 4 a.m., an hour earlier than usual, and prepared the traditional dish made of black beans and white rice. I loaded the baby into his stroller, led our toddler by the elbow and hauled it into his school early Tuesday morning in a slow-cooker, complete with paper plates and plastic serving ware.

Sam beamed as we pushed through the door at 7:50 with his breakfast to share.

“Where should I put this food, Mr. Krywicki?” I asked Sam’s teacher. “It’s really hot. You don’t even have to plug it in. It’s ready to serve.”

He stared at me blankly.

“Food? I didn’t know families were bringing food today,” he said.

“Yes, Sam said something about everyone sharing their ethnic heritage with a traditional food the day before Thanksgiving. It’s rice and beans, a Costa Rican breakfast staple that’s usually served with eggs and fruit.”

“Oh gosh. I would have sent you an email if he was supposed to bring something,” he answered confusedly. “That’s okay! We’ll be glad to eat it.”

Sam didn’t mention that sharing an ethnic food hadn’t exactly been decided upon but rather, just discussed in passing as a possibility. He took it as set in stone and was the only one to show up with a hot dish in hand.

There is a fine line between fibbing and wishing sometimes.

That is okay. I wasn’t upset at all. Everyone laughed and supplemented their morning lesson with something warm to eat.

Sam wanted my participation and that’s what he got.

Each January, MetroFamily’s editors work to compile our Education Guide, complete with listings from local private and charter schools. It features key information so you can start planning for next fall’s enrollment. I know it feels early but that form asking if we intend to enroll for the 2017-2018 school year will come home in a Friday folder before we know it.

There are definitely steps you can take to become more involved in your children’s education without maxing out your most precious resource: time.

Here are three other easy ways to take a more active role this semester:

  • Visit a top spot to learn outside the classroom: From Alabaster Caverns State Park to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, we’ve outlined sites unique to learning in Oklahoma. This list of current museum exhibits can help you find the perfect venue to visit, depending on your children’s ages and interests.
  • Coordinate a class field trip: Ask at your school what the rules are on coordinating a field trip. Public schools can’t usually accept field trip opportunities but you may have better luck pitching the idea to your local parent-teacher organization. Even if you can’t get your school to officially go for your field trip idea, reach out to other parents and agree to meet up on a Saturday at one the venues featured in MetroFamily’s Oklahoma City Field Trips and Enrichment Guide.
  • Read a novel together: Order a book online, pick one up at the next school book fair or visit a local library. Better yet, let your child choose something; compromise so you’re not stuck with “Captain Underpants” and ultimately give up midway through. Books our family has enjoyed recently that are appropriate for early elementary include “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate and E.B. White’s  classic, “Stuart Little.”

If you know of a great way to help out with children’s school experience, let us know here.

We just might feature it soon!

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