As a teacher alum (AKA former teacher), I'm always interested in finding natural, positive ways that my children can fall in love with learning. We (my husband and I) utilize the summer months and casual moments together to reinforce what happens in the classroom as well as open up new avenues for curiosity and learning.
Your home can be a fun place to bring subject matter to life, and to practice and hone in on the challenges your child might be encountering. Here are 5 places in our home that we use for learning:
1. THE STAIRS:
This is a fun exercise in reviewing new and old information! I saw it over at Creekside Learning, and we had to give a it a try. (Ssshh, don't tell my kids they're learning as they're having fun high-fiving.)
The idea is this: Trace your hand onto sheets of paper and add facts that you want to remember. Think facts like multiplication tables or sight words. We have two sets up right now - one for my Kindergartener and one for the 3rd grader (see above). As each goes up or down the stairs, they say the problem (e.g.: "4 times 10 equals 40") aloud and then slap the hand. Using their hands and minds in collaboration helps children to reach a new level of connection. And why not have something to do as you go up and down the stairs? High fives!!
2. THE KITCHEN:
Natural opportunities for learning come up all the time in the kitchen! Measuring ingredients and learning fractions go hand in hand. Doubling recipes or halving them bring out the division skills. Authentic world cuisines bring in history and geography.
We've brought the kids into the kitchen more and more to make great food and to learn great skills. Here are some easy tips on how to have more success (and joy!) with the kids.
3. THE COMFY CHAIR OR FAVORITE WINDOW:
Sometimes the learning can be very casual and independent, too. Think of the natural places your children go for comfort or rest. For my children, there are comfy chairs near our sunny windows that are always filled with their presence. Not coincidentally we try to keep the shelves and tables near the chairs filled with books that my kids might want to pick up. I'm all for increasing their associations with comfort and reading. :)
I like to switch out books for the holidays to catch their attention as well as move new series into the space. We also keep our new library reads in this space so that their reading choices are at hand just when they want to reach for them.
4. THE BREAKFAST TABLE:
A lot of our best thinking happens early in the morning, and the breakfast table can be a good environment for learning, too! Sometimes we use our kitchen's chalkboard wall to learn a new word or try a challenge word problem together. If your child is more on the quiet side first thing in the morning, consider leaving out a relevant newspaper article for him/her to read or even a maze to do while enjoying their morning meal.
5. THE GARAGE:
Ok, maybe I'm stretching the definition of home for this one, but for all of you parents out there who spend hours transporting your children every week, you most likely would consider your car an extension of your home. And all that time in transit can be great learning time, too! If motion sickness is not an issue for your child, have them keep a book next to their seat to read as you drive. If it is, consider checking out audio books that you can cue up for errand running and longer trips.
Keep a BrainQuest pack of questions in the glove compartment that you can ask each other when you're getting gas or driving to school.
And most importantly, show your children that you're passionate about learning and growing. Join in the fun with them, and you'll also be building special family moments!!
How do you incorporate learning into your home? We're always hoping to add new ideas!