RESOURCES FOREarly Childhood
You don't need to get a PhD in education or quit your job to help your son or daughter learn. Here are some quick, simple ways to incorporate learning into your daily routine:
- Keep on top of what your children are learning at school. Be familiar with the textbooks, know the topics being covered, and be aware of their daily, weekly, and long-term assignments. One of the best things you can do to impact learning is to talk with your children. With this basic information, you can have wonderful conversations with your children that intensify their learning experience.
- Exploratory learning is powerful. Show a sense of wonder about the things around you, and your children will catch the curiosity bug. “Look at that beautiful rainbow. We need to find out what creates that band of colors." Use some of the following conversation starters to generate interest: “I wonder what would happen if…" “Tell me about…" Visit Wonderopolis.org to find a Wonder of the Day® to ignite a sense of discovery all around you.
- Involve your children in “teaching" you new information. Explaining something to someone else is a great way to solidify your own understanding.
- One of the most important areas of learning that impact all other areas is reading. When your children are young, have conversations about books as you read aloud together. As your children begin to read independently, have them read to you to help develop fluency. Discuss new words and what they might mean, and have your children explain the overall meaning behind what is read. Doing these things not only helps your children at that time but teaches strategies to apply independently.
- Expose your children to learning areas through at-home “laboratories." Science, technology, and math are some of the fastest growing areas for future employment, yet few students pursue these areas because they have not had adequate exposure and preparation. Your home is a great “laboratory" for providing hands-on learning about all kinds of things in a real-life context. Learning how to safely change a light bulb or repair a lamp is a great opportunity to learn about electrical wiring, using tools, conserving energy as well as being helpful. Go online or visit the library for how-to information.
- Involve your children in everyday tasks. Have them help make the grocery list, checking the pantry to see if needed items are there. They can help cut and organize coupons, and shopping can be a scavenger hunt where your child has the task of finding specific items. The children can use a calculator to keep a running tab of the cost and help count out the cash to pay when you check out.
You can teach your child literacy fundamentals without a classroom or textbooks. Here are some additional tips for sharing knowledge with children by using the world around you and maximizing the time you spend together:
- Teach math skills by letting your child count the money to pay at the store.
- Ask children to find the letters in his or her name by using signs along the street and on buildings.
- Increase oral language skills by sharing stories of your own childhood.
- Make science come alive at home by checking out science experiment books from the library and then trying simple experiments at home. For example, grow a vegetable with your child, chart the growth, and talk about it.
- Tie reading into an outing. If you're going to a museum, bring home a book about a favorite exhibit, so children see reading as an experience.
- Use certain techniques for reading that have been proven to increase effectiveness in reading time, including making sound effects to capture attention and changing your voice when different characters speak. Don't forget to talk about the story to reinforce comprehension and memory skills, and read it again because repetition helps children recognize and remember words.