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How to Make Learning Fun for Your Child
Children spend a substantial amount of time learning in school. However, for some children, more is needed. They may have a learning disability requiring more studying than most children or have difficulty grasping a subject. Even for academically gifted children, the dreaded summer break learning loss could set them back for the upcoming school year. These issues lead many parents to try and continue their child’s academics at home. However, is it fair to subject your child to hours of learning each day and deny them a break when they arrive home? Instead, let us discuss ways to make learning fun for your child.
Make it Interactive!
Studies show that children are more likely to retain learning information when interacting with their educational material. So, instead of a long, boring lecture they likely experience in school, give your child the opportunity to interact with their lesson.
A weekend trip can become a learning opportunity that you can tailor to your child’s interests. Farms, zoos, and even parks are beautiful environments for your child to learn about animals and the ecosystem. They can also write about their trip afterward as writing practice and to reflect on what they learned.
Changing up your child’s environment is another perk of field trips. They may grow tired of the classroom throughout the week, so a change of pace could be just what they need to rejuvenate their enthusiasm for learning. You can also tailor the trips to your child’s interests, such as a natural history museum for dinosaur enthusiasts or the aquarium. It is likely you have already made these trips or plan on them in the future and can turn them into a learning experience with just a few alterations, such as asking them questions about what they are learning or bringing along a worksheet to fill out. Some places, such as the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, already have a built-in scavenger hunt game for kids.
Keeping learning interactive benefits your child’s memory retention and avoids the pitfall of expecting a child to sit still and focus for an extended period. While a certain amount of focus is required for learning, children do not have the same attention span as adults. When considering activities to implement into your child’s learning at home or during homework time, favor those encouraging movement, such as the activities in this video. If this is impossible, create a routine of taking breaks every 15 to 30 minutes, depending on your child’s needs.
Make it Rewarding!
Implementing a reward system can encourage children to stay focused and motivated, and you can use it to remind them of a reason to put in work. Rewards can take many forms, so customizing your rewards to your child’s preferences is the most crucial factor. Reward systems also teach the practice of goal setting and achieving, which is a valuable skill set to carry throughout life. If your child is old enough, they can work with you to set goals that will result in rewards.
One type of reward system is tactile prizes. Desk pets, which have become popular classroom reward systems, are a great option. Sticker charts are also a great option, especially if your child needs encouragement for good behavior. Another option is using a sticker sheet with fun designs from which your child can choose at the end of each lesson. Ensure your child understands the behaviors or goals they must align to learn a reward. Rather than just “good behavior” or “hard work,” you could give rewards for finishing a certain amount of homework problems, explaining a new concept from their lesson to you, etc… Do not take away prizes for bad behavior. This will only diminish their motivation. Instead, remind them of the rewards they could receive and withhold the prizes until they show good behavior.
Make it Playful!
Another way to make learning fun is to combine it with something already enjoyable. Games, arts and crafts, and outdoor activities are all great options for this.
Board games can often be used for learning with little changes. For example, use a game such as Candyland as it is, but have your child answer a question from something they are learning in order to advance. Card games such as Go Fish can be used with phonics learning or shape recognition by making simple cards using index cards. Online games are also a great option. Websites like PBS have educational games you and your child can play together.
Arts and crafts can be used for just about every academic subject. Pinterest has plenty of ideas for educational crafts, such as this cloud spotter activity and this snowman counting craft. Even simple activities, such as cutting up quiz questions to pull from a hat, can become a fun game.
As mentioned earlier, movement is vital for children and can help them retain information. Therefore, outdoor games are perfect for fun learning. You could try a new game, such as the options on this list, or implement learning into a game your child knows, such as counting with hopscotch and jump rope.
Learning at home does not have to be a struggle. Some of these activities may be so enjoyable for your child that they will request to do them again. Enjoyable learning helps your child polish up their academics, enjoy their time at home, and can become a bonding time between you and your child. Think creatively and have fun!