September 1st: The day all parents breathe a sigh of relief. Soon the school bells are ringing and our little ones are back in school, making a mess there and not in our homes!
As a child, I used to get quite excited for the first day back, and finding out what new things I would be learning, although I know a lot of my classmates didn’t share my zest for knowledge. In fact, so many would be desperate to get home so they could sit in front of the TV and watch mindless cartoons. While mindless cartoons are a great way to take a load off, it’s not what I would want for my child every day of the week!
You, mums and dads, can still help your child to learn outside of the classroom, by sneakily injecting learning into their play time at home.
As a parent, ask your child’s teacher for a copy of the current term’s syllabus, so you know what they are learning about. Having this information enables you to buy toys, books and products that will compliment their classroom activities while keeping them occupied at home. Communicate with your child too: ask them what they did today. Some children will say ‘nothing’, as my brother and I did regularly when we were younger. Children do not do ‘nothing’! Keep pressing and ask questions like ‘what did you enjoy the most at school?’ or ‘what was the hardest thing you did today?’. This can help you to determine your child’s interests and skills.
When looking for children’s educational toys, make sure you are buying things that match up to their interests. There are lots of ‘make your own…’ kits that would suit the artistic child, or the hands-on learners. Foil art is a great way to help with pen control (which will improve handwriting) and attention to detail in younger children, as are activities such as sewing (which isn’t limited just to girls…boys can enjoy it too!). Something that is always popular with children is the range of experiments they will conduct in the science lab. A home experiment kit can further this interest and teach them something new, possibly ahead of their classmates.
Keeping the brain active is very important. Proactive thinking, problem solving, and analysis are vital skills which help us with our learning. To improve these, invest in some fun puzzles. For young children, matching games are the perfect activity, and for older children a jigsaw can be suitably taxing. The better the child gets, the more complicated the jigsaw you can set them onto! These provide hours of fun, and can also involve the rest of the family. Puzzle books can be great too, as different puzzles target different subjects. Dot-to-dot pictures encourage counting and pen control, where a word-search challenges reading, spelling and analysing.
The best thing to remember when encouraging your child to learn at home is KEEP IT FUN. School isn’t always the most fun way to learn things, so keep as much fun in the activities as you can.