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Spring break is a perfect time to keep students learning

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This week is spring break for San Francisco’s public schools, which means students get a brief change of routine before going back to school and their spring semester classes.

But taking a break from the classroom doesn’t mean the learning stops. In fact, the change in routine can reinforce what they have been studying in school. The time off is the perfect chance to show your child how what she or he learns in school relates to the everyday world around us.

Become a Giant reader

Is your child a Giants fan? Opening day is around the corner. You can point out San Francisco Examiner articles and find books in the library written about our home team and famous players.

Does your family take in movies during the break? Before heading to the theater, have your child read a review of the movie — afterward ask your child if he or she noticed things listed in the review and thinks the critic was fair.

If you’re more outdoorsy, planning a hike or picnic, take time to read a map of the park together.

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And don’t forget your local public library! Many branches are open on weekends and some evenings, and it’s easy to get your own library card.

Leave things around

At home, have newspapers, magazines and books on the table to spark your child’s interest. Children are naturally curious, and will choose good reading material if it’s available.

Do math on Muni

If you’re taking Muni, you can ask your child to count the number of people on the bus reading something on their phones, and the ones not, and create a fraction for the results (extra credit for figuring out what percentage of all riders not looking at their phones).

At the grocery store, weigh the bulk items you are buying and ask your child to figure out how much it will cost based on the price per pound — the suspense at the checkout counter to see the actual amount might make the trip more interesting.

Going on a road trip? You can tell your child the speed you are driving and the distance of the trip. Then together you can figure out how many minutes it will take to reach your destination.

Be a storyteller

Use spring break as a chance to share fun stories from your own childhood. Perhaps talking about a favorite teacher you had years ago will spark a conversation about your child’s teacher or a special school staff member. Talking about what your child likes about school can help the transition back to the classroom next week.

Most importantly, remember that you are your child’s first teacher. Taking time to do a quick math problem just for fun, finding something interesting to read, and talking about school shows your child that his or her education — inside and outside the classroom — is important to you.

Richard Carranza is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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