How can I encourage learning at home?

Learning is not just something that happens at school, and learning is not dependent on textbooks and formal lessons. A family that is involved, interested, and curious can learn all the time.

The best way parents can encourage learning at home is to he learners themselves. When they read, their kids read. When parents have many interests, kids develop interests and hobbies too. Parents show positive attitudes toward learning whenever they try to master a skill, research a new topic, or spend time at a museum or concert.

An important way parents can enrich their child’s education is to follow up on his interests by providing materials, books, and experiences. With imagination and a creative use of available resources, even parents on the most limited budgets can offer active encouragement.

For example, if a child is interested in rock collecting, here are some of the activities his parents can help with or suggest: he can look for colorful picture guides in the library or on the Internet, go on nature walks to locate specimens, visit collections in local museums and nature centers, and write away for catalogs and free educational materials put out by many corporations and nonprofit organizations. He can join a rock collectors’ club, talk to teenage and adult collectors, trade specimens with his friends, and go to local gem and mineral shows. In addition, he can collect and organize pictures of rocks and minerals from magazines and advertisements. He can subscribe to a specialized magazine, watch educational programs and videos related to geology, keep his own “scientist’s journal,” or arrange his collection in a home-made display case. There’s no limit to the ways parents can follow up on his interest. They should help him find activities that meet his needs and allow him to explore a hobby or skill as fully as he desires.

If he wants to pursue an academic subject, they can encourage him to go beyond the school’s lessons. A child who likes the challenge of math can be introduced to puzzles, brain teasers, chess, new computer software, or topics in logic. There are many math games, puzzles, and curiosities for children available in libraries, book stores, and on the Internet. All will stimulate a child more than the “educational workbooks” often marketed to parents.

Parents can help by talking regularly to their child about his schoolwork, their own interests and work, and current events. Discussions can revolve around sports, the environment, history, popular entertainment, space exploration, fashion, music, or animals. As long as the subject is interesting to the child, the talk will be valuable. Parents should listen carefully to his opinions and questions. That way, he’ll come to see himself as an important participant in family talks.

Sometimes learning at home supplements inadequate learning in school. If a child finds a school subject boring, his parents should try to show that the subject has another side. A child who dislikes creative writing may enjoy hearing about the early experiences of well-known writers, or may enjoy seeing his parents’ own attempts at creative writing.

If he’s having difficulty mastering a school subject, parents can help at home. Sometimes it takes only a few minutes to answer a question; sometimes parents have to do research of their own before they can assist their child. Either way, parents’ involvement will help him do better in school and may spark n new interest for him.

Learning doesn’t have to be parent-initiated. A child can teach his parents and siblings a new skill or share a new fact, and he can learn from his siblings. One child wanted to try cursive writing, a subject not taught in her grade. Her older sister showed her how, using an old workbook for practice.

To enrich your child’s education at home, follow some of these suggestions. Have your child keep a diary or journal, writing in it as often as he likes. Make regular trips to the library and find books your child can read as well as ones you can read to him. Encourage him to read whatever and whenever he can. Have him go online (to sites you approve of). Scan newspapers and magazines together, or get your child his own subscription to a children’s magazine. Collect reference books, dictionaries, an encyclopedia, and educational software for your home library. Periodically post a new vocabulary word on the refrigerator and challenge your child to use it during the week. Go to museums, nature centers, concerts, and plays together. Watch educational programs, particularly ones on nature.

Make learning a pleasurable, shared experience and your child will join in. Don’t give negative judgments about his progress or compare his achievements to his siblings’. He’ll do better without pressure.

If you sense that he’s losing interest in a particular subject or hobby, try a new approach, wait awhile, or look for alternative ways to involve him. There are so many possibilities for learning at home that you’re sure to continue finding interesting and challenging activities.

Picture Credit : Google