Like anything else in life, it helps to have a philosophy about your child and learning. It is not necessarily enough to say I want my child to have a good education. Parents benefit when they have a “road map” in their mind about how to get there. While what and how your child learns at school is an important piece of the puzzle, how you encourage learning at home also matters. I don’t have any research focused on the impact of families encouraging learning at home, but my experience so far and common sense says it is the most important impact on a child’s learning and attitude toward education. As you take that second cup of coffee this morning, take a minute to think about what your vehicle of learning at home looks like.
In our household, there are two philosophies that seem to be operating. One I will call the toucan philosophy. It is sort of based on that old commercial for a certain cereal. The toucan would say, “Follow your nose!” If there is something that your child is interested in learning, let them follow their nose and explore. Let them delve into the land of fairies, “Star Wars,” horses, trucks, tractors, baseball, etc. As I move some toy fairies from the seat I am typing from, I think about the different stories my girls have read about fairies. They have built fairy houses outside to extend their interest and gone on fairy finding walks at our house. –And of course they love to dressup as little pixies. Libraries and the internet are an excellent and natural place to extend your children’s love, with themed reading adventures. In my neck of the woods The Corfu Free Library http://www.corfufreelibrary.org, is offering a fairy themed book discussion and crafts group on Fridays for young girls. Similar groups exist throughout area libraries to encourage reading, learning, and young interests. If it is tractors take them for a ride and point out tractors. Better yet, visit a farm or a tractor store so your little John Deere can have a first-hand look at his love.
Along these same lines, we are big believers in the importance of play for learning and the more open, unstructured, and outdoors, the better. Whether it is the fast times we live in, higher academic standards, over scheduling, the pull towards media and all its forms, or a combination of forces, children do not have the time to play like they use to. While we know this as parents, even the American Academy of Pediatrics has come out with strong statements in their periodicals about this issue http://www.aap.org/pressroom/playFINAL.pdf . Children learn through their play. They integrate and assimilate information. They use their imagination. While it is sometimes easier, quieter, and more favored by the little people to watch a movie, play a video game, or get on the computer, parental wisdom tells us that this should be tempered. The research does the same.
How do you see your children learning at home? Please share and reply.