Learning is not just reserved for the classroom! Many of the most significant things you have ever understood, and knowledge that you’ve gained, was probably learnt outside the confines of your school walls. Learning, wherever it takes place, is enhanced and consolidated through its use. School work takes on a whole new level of meaning when a child becomes personally aware of its uses and benefits in everyday life. Schools, colleges and other places of learning exist in order to prepare individuals for whatever circumstances life may throw their way.
This article identifies some of the simple ways in which you can assist your child’s learning in everyday situations. It also suggests ways in which to capitalise on the learning that takes place at school. It does not in any way suggest ‘hothousing’ your children by subjecting them to the constant pressure of striving for academic achievement. It simply draws attention to the everyday opportunities for learning that arise and can be utilised with the minimum amount of effort.
Ensure that you are ‘caught’ reading.
If you’d like your children to read regularly they need to see you doing the same. After all, reading is a great way to learn about many aspects of the world as well as being entertained.
Read to your child.
What you share and enjoy with your child is likely to become important to them. It’s a great way to further build your relationship and to set the scene for good quality reading in the future. It also gives you the opportunity to enjoy the books of your childhood again and to create a shared history with your children.
Get your child to read to you.
This can be a relaxing and bonding time for you both and provides your child with useful, enjoyable practise in reading aloud. Praise them for their efforts and improvements.
Look up new words together.
If you uncover words that are unfamiliar to your child then show them how to find them in a dictionary instead of just telling them the meaning.
Ask your child questions.
Children tend to ask lots of questions but they also like having the opportunity to answer them too. Test your child’s comprehension and memory by asking them about the stories you’ve read together. If you need to know something you could ask your child to try to find an answer for you. The very process of putting thoughts into words to answer a question can help consolidate knowledge and fix it more firmly in the memory.
Visit bookshops and libraries.
This creates a pleasurable, recreational link with books and enables your child to dip in and out of things that interest them. It’s a great way to discover interests and activities that could be very important to them throughout their lives and just makes books an enjoyable and positive part of their lives.
This provides opportunities to practise many important life skills:
Numeracy: Totalling prices, working out discounts, working to a budget.
Geography: Discussing and discovering where in the World certain foods and objects come from.
Data Handling: Extracting specific information from labels.
Communication and confidence: Talking to shop assistants and cashiers.
With just a moment’s thought you realise that every trip is full of valuable experiences and opportunities.
Let them plan a journey.
If you’re taking a trip to visit relatives or going on holiday, consider letting your children help or, even take charge, of planning the journey. This provides the opportunity to: learn how to read maps, discover points of interest, work out distances, plan an itinerary, communicate their decisions. All extremely useful life skills.
Find reasons to write.
Whether writing by hand or typing on a computer, writing is an essential skill. Encourage your children to write :
Thank you letters.
Letters to pen pals and relatives.
Keep a diary.
Stories or poems as gifts…..
Cooking is a creative and essential life skill in itself.
I t can also be another opportunity to practise Numeracy skills, such as weighing, measuring and working out proportions. It also makes use of essential Literacy skills such as following and understanding instructions.
Involve your child in DIY.
Not only could you be training up a useful personal assistant you could also encourage your child to put many of their school-learnt skills to practical use:
Understanding and following written instructions.
Team work and social interaction.
Strength and precision.
Become an assistant for their school projects.
Allow them the satisfaction of taking charge and practising leadership skills once in a while. This shows that you are learning to trust them, that you feel they are capable and value their contributions. This can provide an enormous boost to their confidence and self-esteem, is a bonding experience and strengthens the trust in your relationship together.