Learning with kids involves more than picking out worksheets for them to complete or making sure they’re working on something educational; it’s a process that requires parents and teachers to be active participants in the learning process. No matter what ages you’re working with, these tips will help make every day learning more entertaining, more engaging, and, ultimately, more effective.
#1 Focus on Your Kids’ Interests
Don’t do something just because it interests you. This is about interacting with your kids, so you want to incorporate activities and subjects they like to help get them to buy in to the activity. Even if you’re just picking out worksheets, choose topics that kids like, not topics you think they should focus on.
#2 Let Your Kids Do the Work
As a parent it’s hard to step back and let kids take control, but by letting your kids do most of the work, you’re giving them a chance to learn and letting them build their problem-solving and creative thinking skills.
#3 Don’t Be Afraid of Messes
When kids take control, they’re bound to make messes. Rather than worrying about the mess they might make, lay out some newspaper on the table, spread a table cloth on the floor, or head outside to complete the activity. That way kids can be free to create without worrying about staining your freshly cleaned carpet.
#4 Encourage Kids to Experiment and Make Mistakes
Kids won’t get everything right the first time, but home should be the place where it’s okay to make mistakes. When kids learn to handle mistakes and failures at home, they’ll be more prepared to handle them effectively at school and other aspects of life. They’ll also learn that sometimes trial and error is the best way to come up with something that works in the end.
#5 Ask Questions Instead of Giving Answers
By the same token, it’s easy just to tell kids how to do something or give them the answer to a question. However, as a parent, you can foster their critical thinking skills by asking questions to help them figure out the answers on their own or by helping kids conduct research to find the answer.
#6 Be Enthusiastic
Sometimes it’s hard to get excited about your kids’ interests, but when you show enthusiasm for the things your kids enjoy, they will start to feel like they matter. If you can’t be genuinely enthusiastic, at least pretend you are. Chances are that a false enthusiasm will turn into genuine enthusiasm by the end of the activity.
#7 Document the Experience
While the memories will be lasting, it doesn’t hurt to document the experience. Just be careful not to let the process of taking pictures keep you from fully interacting with your kids. Take pictures or record video of the different steps of a project and of the final product. When you reflect on the experience with your kids, you can talk about the process, mistakes they made, and how you enjoyed working together as a family.
Kids need the chance to learn on their own, but they also need their teachers, parents, and other important adults in their lives to participate in the learning process with them. The earlier you start implementing these strategies, the more potential they’ll have to influence the way your kids learn for a lifetime.
Have you used any of these strategies? If so, have you seen a difference since implementing them? Share your thoughts to help other teachers and parents improve the way kids learn.
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