Liz Kuhn loves to promote learning outside of the classroom. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in school social work, she has had experiences working in a high school setting coordinating after-school and summer enrichment programs, and in a residential setting coordinating after-school programs and academic resources. She is currently the Director of Academic Resources at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, and can offer some great tips on how to keep your kids entertained while learning after school. Take advantage of your child’s entire day by implementing some activities that will help them thrive outside of the classroom.

Liz Kuhn (Courtesy of Liz Kuhn)

Liz Kuhn (Courtesy of Liz Kuhn)

Liz Kuhn
Mercy Home For Boys And Girls
1140 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 738-7560
www.mercyhome.org

Mercy Home offers residential, educational and community activities for children in troubled circumstances. From living full-time as a resident to enrolling in an educational program to being mentored by a positive adult role model, the many services offered at Mercy Home help to enrich the lives of young people. Liz Kuhn, Director of Academic Resources at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, has a deep understanding of some of the activities that can help a child to grow and persevere. While classroom experience provides educational learning, the after-school activities provided for a child can greatly enhance their learning experiences and their lives as a whole.

Explore and Develop Strengths and Talents

“The local park district, library and community center offer a variety of activities ranging from sports to arts to educational classes. Kids should try several activities to see which strengths and talents emerge. One’s personal investment in an activity has several positive implications for self-perception, task persistence and goal pursuance. All of these are critical life lessons that are added bonuses beyond the actual experience of developing a strength or talent.”

Develop Healthy Habits with Physical Activity and Nutrition

“Daily habits related to physical activity and nutrition are largely influenced by what parents model for their kids. Sixty minutes of daily physical activity can have positive impact on both physical and mental health. If kids do not have the opportunity to attend structured sports activities, there are several ‘DIY’ activities that be done such as biking, walking or jogging in the neighborhood, calisthenics, yoga, and utilizing props such as balance boards and resistance bands. Engage kids in helping to prepare healthy after-school snacks and dinner. Learn more fitness and nutrition ideas at www.choosemyplate.gov.”

Practice “Real World” Skills Such As Organization and Time Management

“Skills such as organization and time management can be reinforced during after-school hours, and eventually become daily habits that will benefit kids in the long run. Engage kids to help put together a daily and weekly schedule to plan how they’re spending time. Scheduling a set study time often means less resistance to doing homework. During study time, help to sort through papers and folders to stay organized, review the assignment notebook to prioritize assignments and help plot out long-term projects, and set a plan for how to spend study time. Set incentives to ‘earn’ technology, TV or video game time and build that into the daily or weekly schedule.”

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Read For Enjoyment

“Finding books that capture kids’ interests and match their reading abilities can be challenging. Once those two obstacles are overcome, it’s much easier for kids to read for enjoyment. Most kids are given a Lexile measure through school assessments. Lexile measures match up with texts at the right level of challenge (not too easy, not too difficult). Most books and online reading materials at the library or bookstore have a Lexile measure. Find the right book at lexile.com and also visit your local library.”

Play Old-Fashioned Games

“Many card games and board games are educational and promote skills such as critical thinking, logic, literacy and math. Through the process of playing games, fruitful discussion can take place and adults and kids alike can promote pro-social behaviors such as problem solving, cooperation, respect and sportsmanship. Depending on age level, consider Bananagrams, chess, Apples to Apples, 24 Game and Peaceable Kingdom games. A wonderful local resource is Cat and Mouse Games with two locations in the city and a user-friendly website cat-n-mouse.com.”

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Sara Lugardo is a professional writer out of Chicago, Illinois. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication and is currently working on her Master’s. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.