Quality Learning at Home
It happens more and more these days that I find myself having conversations in social settings about people’s own children. These conversations seem to range from questions like “Is this normal?” to “What is this report actually saying?”, but a conversation I’m quite fond of having with friends is “What should I be teaching my child at home?”. It seems that I am now in a position of paying forward all the casual conversations I’ve had with accountants or doctors about things on my mind!
I recently had this type of conversation with a very good friend of mine who is an advocate of the play-centre approach, but is slightly concerned that her little girl may start ‘behind’ in school if she can’t read and write when she gets there. It left me thinking a lot about the place of formal education and the very vital learning that goes on to lay the foundations for this formal learning to happen.
Quality learning in the home makes the world of difference in a child’s educational success. It is important though to take a broad view of what it means to learn, when you take this view you will realise that you can be encouraging your child’s education while having a marvellous time. Children are in learning mode from the day they are born and it is part of our role as educators and parents to make sure children remain in this mode.
There are certain behaviours that make a big difference to a child’s ability to learn at school. Teaching these behaviours at home can make an impact, even if at the time it feels like you are just spending time with your children.
Curiosity plays a vital role in learning. Investigating, exploring and asking questions lead to such wonderful learning opportunities. The Bible speaks of having a child-like faith, I also think a child-like sense of wonder is a desirable trait and is a healthy place for learning to grow from. You can encourage this by growing plants, making hokey pokey, pointing out a Rainbow, or even watching where the ants are heading. Encourage your children to ask all those ‘why’ questions!
Perseverance is essential for sustained learning. It is not a bad thing for your children to struggle with a few things, as doing so in a safe environment builds their confidence in the skills they have to overcome challenges. Doing jigsaw puzzles, following the instructions for a Lego set, or creating loom band bracelets all require a decent amount of perseverance. Coach your children through this, point out to them when they are persevering and why that is a good thing. One of the biggest challenges I see for children and parents in relation to perseverance is time. Often when we are rushed, and this happens at school too, we will quickly do something for a child that should really have been their task to complete. We always need to be careful in our enthusiasm to get things done that we are not stealing a child’s opportunity to learn.
The last behaviour for today, though I may need to follow this up with a sequel, is risk taking. By risk taking I don’t mean jumping out of trees or running across roads, I mean the ability to take a risk that you might be wrong. A large portion of learning happens through having a try and either making a mistake and learning from it, or doing an average job and getting feedback/forward. Embracing a positive attitude towards making mistakes and receiving feedback is very important. Create a safe place in your home where mistakes are celebrated and learnt from.