Last week, we made a case for staying 'in the loop' along your children's educational journey — even when and especially if your children are attending school outside the home. The classroom of today looks nothing like the classroom of yesteryear, and similarly, neither does the degree to which parents are involved in their children's schooling. Today, parental involvement is the most unsung asset in modern-day education. I can't stress enough that when parents take an interest in education, children take an interest in learning. It's just that simple and here are the strategies we promised — ten to be precise — for helping you stay in your children's learning loop!
1.) INVOLVED PARENTING
Take advantage of the open-door policy that many schools implement for parents and make your presence known in the building. This step will also assist in keeping the lines of communication open between you and the teachers in the classrooms — which is very helpful when you're trying to stay in the learning loop. If your child's school is one of those that doesn't offer an organized program for parents who would like to volunteer in the classrooms, perhaps you could suggest such a program. These programs generate multiple benefits to be had by all; parents, students, and teachers alike. Be an involved parent in extra-curricular activities offered through the school as well. You'd be surprised how many parents don't show up to sporting events, spelling bees, concerts, and debate tournaments.
2.) IN-THE-KNOW PARENTING
Always be in-the-know about what your children are being taught in their classrooms and super-charge the topics at home by providing supplemental reading, creating hands-on projects, facilitating discussions, or planning fun field trips. This step will help cure that 'tight-lippedness' you're probably getting when you ask the question, "What did you do at school today?" It's a fact that when children witness a parent learning new things alongside them, lips loosen and children are more than eager to share what they learn in school with parents.
3.) KEEP IT CONSISTENT
Establish a consistent routine that allows plenty of time for those things which directly affect learning — homework, reading, discussions, home-educational activities, healthy foods at family mealtime, and plenty of sleep.
4.) LIFE-LONG LEARNING
Always put forward your best pro-learning attitude. Illustrate for your children that learning is a life-long fun process and that human beings never stop learning. Share with them something new that you learned to confirm that you're still learning every day. Enthusiasm for learning is contagious, and parents who model a positive attitude will see positive results in their children. As I maintain, "When parents take an interest in education, children take an interest in learning; it is just that simple."
5.) INSPIRE A LOVE OF LEARNING
Inspire your children to love learning by not only learning with them; but by always making it fun.fun.fun! Believe it or not, making it fun can be done by merely creating a learning-rich environment in the home with books, audio & visual resources, arts & craft supplies, educational kits, educational toys & games, etc.
6.) CHILD-CENTERED AND CHILD-LED LEARNING
When you provide learning opportunities in the home, you have the luxury of being able to offer those which are child-centered and child-led. Follow your children's passions when it comes to learning. If your child wants to learn about dinosaurs; foster that interest, and although you may not know everything there is to know about dinosaurs — find fun things that can help you all learn about dinosaurs together. For instance — books, educational films, card games, board games, prehistoric timelines, etc. You'll be amazed at the sheer enthusiasm and willingness you encounter when passion is the catalyst and the force behind learning.
7.) UNDERSTAND LEARNING STYLES
Each child learns differently, so be aware of 'how' each of your children learns best. There are four distinct learning styles; they are Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic. Often referred to as VARK Learning Styles. Identifying the best learning style(s) does not mean you ignore the less favored learning styles. Knowing your children's strengths and weakness is a tool to help you understand how they are learning. While you should most definitely celebrate their learning strengths, you should also most definitely NOT ignore their learning weaknesses. Discovering your child's learning style(s) of preference using this essential parent tool from Scholastic is not difficult and will prove very helpful in the long run.
8.) READING, READING, AND MORE READING
Encourage reading, reading, and more reading. Set a good example by reading, reading, and reading more! Need I say anything else? I needn't; however, I will! Obviously, reading increases knowledge. But did you know it also promotes creativity, encourages imagination, expands vocabulary, boosts grammar, strengthens analytical thinking skills, stimulates memory, improves concentration, builds self-learning confidence, and provides tranquil unplugged entertainment? And remember it doesn't matter what your children are reading — a magazine article, contemporary fiction or non-fiction, classic literature, graphic cartoon novels — whatever their fancy! After all, reading is reading, and the benefits are plentiful!
9.) TIME OTHERWISE WASTED
Make smart use of time otherwise wasted. The modern family lives in a constant on-the-go whirlwind world. With three children, I can remember feeling frustrated with the amount of time that was frittered away traveling from here, to there, and everywhere — until I transformed our car into a mobile learning lab. And it was easy enough to do! I bought each child a lap desk and filled containers with baskets of pens, pencils, crayons, paper, educational travel games, flash cards, fact fan decks, books, etc. Never again was another minute to be wasted in the car! It was also handy when my boys had to wait while my daughter did her ballet class. Or those time when the ballet slipper was on the other foot, and she had nothing to do while her brothers were racing their bikes.
10.) SIMPLY PERFECT AND PERFECTLY SIMPLE
To round it up to an even ten, we thought we'd take the opportunity to mention our Hands-On Kits 'n' Kaboodles™. Each is available in three color-coded levels — red for children ages 5-7, yellow for children ages 8-10, and blue for ages 11-13. The nice thing about the Homespun and Hands-On® comprehensive, kit-based learning system — with its multi-colored kaboodles — is that parents can easily tailor the learning strategy for each child while providing the same hands-on learning activity for the entire family to enjoy. PLUS — Every single Hands-On Kit 'n' Kaboodle™ is specially designed by our team of educators to offer exposure to each of the VARK Learning Styles — visual, auditory, read/write, and kinesthetic. AND WAIT THERE'S MORE — the final (and most compelling reason) to try one of our products with your kiddos: Hands-On Kits 'n' Kaboodles™ are 'simply perfect' because they make it 'perfectly simple' for you to create fun and educational together time!
Have fun learning and staying in your children's learning loop!
Oh! And by the way, we'd be ever so grateful if you'd...