Everyday Ways to Help Children Learn
Integrating learning in everyday situations is the best way to help your child learn. Here’s how to go about it.
By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj
‘Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.’
– William Wordsworth
Conventional belief may point to the fact that learning happens strictly in schools. But, as parents, you should be aware that most of the learning for a child takes place in everyday situations. It is, therefore, your duty to seize every opportunity possible and ensure that you integrate learning in daily life situations for your child. The great poet William Wordsworth, in his poem, ‘Tables Turned’, takes up the cause of learning from Nature. While doing so, he goes to the extent of saying, ‘Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books.’ Well, you needn’t go to the extent of making your child give up formal learning from books. But, you can certainly enable her to learn from daily life. It will make the process of learning an interesting and fun-filled one. It will also improve your child’s retention and application skills. Let’s look at some ways of integrating the learning of various subjects through everyday life situations.
1. Social Studies: Plan week-end trips or long holidays during the summer vacation to places of historical importance. Equip yourself with manuals about the history of the place and educate your child about the significance. A guided tour will be of great help. You can encourage your child to come up with an album of photographs with snippets after the trip. Even a simple trip to the local museum, planetarium or weather observatory will be both entertaining as well as educative. Why not get him involved in map-reading while on a trip to a new place? Or, you could even plan an evening slot to watch a documentary on the National Geographic or History TV, and have a question-and-answer session after that.
2. Science: A walk in the park, collecting leaves for a scrap book; visiting a village farm, feeding the animals and studying their habits; watching birds in the backyard, noting down their descriptions and habits; planting seeds in pots on the window-sill or balcony, watching them grow; visiting a confectionery or toy-making factory, observing the processes; cooking together, discussing the nutritional benefits of ingredients – all these and more such activities can contribute to making the learning of science fun. A quiet Saturday afternoon watching the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet could also be meaningful exercises, with the family discussing the documentaries.
3. Mathematics: A range of activities such as time-keeping for specific tasks or week-end outings, playing games involving scores, maintaining the budget for special occasions or shopping trips, measuring lengths and widths for home DIYs, estimating costs for projects, cross-checking bills at the counters and measuring out ingredients for recipes can all be everyday situations where mathematics can be applied. When it comes to teaching the importance of savings to your child, you need to start early on; for this, there’s nothing like getting him his own little piggy bank or even opening a minor’s savings bank account for him. Teach him to save and maintain an account of his savings. Apart from keeping his numerical ability sharp, it will also teach him financial independence.
4. Languages: Games such as ‘What’s the good word?’, ‘Scrabble’, ‘Word building’, and ‘Crosswords’, can hone your child’s language skills. Set aside some time for these games during family bonding sessions, especially during week-ends. Some of these can also ease the strain of long distance car rides and help keep children engaged. Watching the news in dual languages – one familiar and the other not-so-familiar – can also help learn new languages. In case your child is learning a foreign language such as French or German, you can encourage her to write post-its and to-do lists in that language. Recipes or food labels can also offer scope for reading aloud and developing vocabulary. The news on television and announcements at the airport or railway station can also lend themselves to being good exercises in listening comprehension for your child.
With these simple everyday ways to make your child learn, go ahead and make the learning process fun for him.
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Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj