One of the important elements of a good home learning environment is parent-child interactions. Read on to know what your child learns from conversations, DIY activities, chores and art
Acharyat padam adatte (From the teacher is learned a quarter)
Padam sisyah svamedhaya (A quarter from the student's own intelligence)
Padam sabrahmacaribyah (A quarter from fellow students)
Padam kalakramena ca (A quarter with the passage of time)
This commentary by Haradatta (in 'Apastamba Dharmasutra'-1.7.29) has withstood the test of time.
More and more research shows learning is not limited to gaining knowledge in school from a teacher. In fact, the home learning environment, of which parent-child interaction is an important element, plays a crucial role in broadening your child's knowledge.
And as I tell you all this, my mind goes back to that rainy day when, as a 6-year-old, I learned the first lesson of science from my mother. Let me share with you what happened that day.
After lunch, sitting by the window, I got busy making paper boats. After making a few, I requested my mom to bring a pan of water, as I wanted to see my boats sail through the "ocean".
As I placed the first boat on water, my mom sat on the floor beside the pan and dropped her hair clip into it. The clip sank to the bottom. I was thrilled.
Looking at my mom, I said, "Your clip sank but my boat is floating."
"But, beta, do you know why your boat floats while my clip sank?" asked my mom.
"Because I make the best boats, Mom," I said with a proud expression.
"Of course you do, but let me tell you the real reason," she said.
And then my mom went on to explain buoyant force and narrate the story behind Archimedes' principle. This event remains etched in my memory and is one of my best learning experiences.
Let's make this lockdown our rainy day
Like a rainy day, the lockdown has forced our children to stay at home, away from the playground and school. Although they are attending online classes, they haven't got much to do with hands-on learning.
You can fill this void by creating a stimulating home learning environment for your child. And, to do that all you have to do is engage your primary schooler in conversations, DIY activities, household chores and art. Here is what your child can learn in your company.
What your child learns through conversations
- Active listening skills: Children get distracted quite easily. So, it's important to help them learn active listening skills. You can model active listening skills for your child by maintaining eye contact, not interrupting, and asking questions when your child speaks. This also reinforces the message that the speaker (your child) is important and worth paying attention to. This, in turn, would also help build her self-esteem.
- Empathy: The ability to understand the feelings of others is very important. By talking with your child, you can introduce her to emotions and help her recognize them in others. For example, you can ask, "What did your mum feel when you asked her to make pancakes after she had already cooked breakfast?" This can be a stepping-stone to nurturing empathy in your child.
- New words: Good vocabulary can help your child express herself as well as understand others. Through conversations, you can introduce your child to new words and help expand her vocabulary.
What your child learns through DIY activities
The principles of science govern our everyday lives. There are various opportunities and ways to introduce your child to fundamental science concepts in a home learning environment. An interesting way would be through simple DIY activities.
Here are a few science concepts that your child can learn through easy DIY activities.
- Nutrition for plants/flowers: Ask your child to dip a few big white flowers in separate bowls of water to which different food colors have been added. After a few hours, see what happens to the color of the petals - a fun way to introduce your child to capillary action, transpiration and the way plants and flowers derive nourishment.
- Fire needs oxygen: Light a candle and ask your child to cover it with a glass tumbler. Ask your child why the candle stopped burning, and explain the role of oxygen in combustion. Another version of this experiment can also explain the concept of air pressure. But for this, you'll have to place the lit candle in a basin of water and then do the experiment.
You can come up with similar DIY activities to help her understand concepts such as density by dropping a spoonful of oil on water, time with the help of a water or sand clock and magnetism with the help of magnets.
What your child learns through household chores
Understanding the fundamental principles of science is essential, but it's equally important to learn certain life skills like organization, responsibility, self-reliance and teamwork. By involving your child in daily chores around the house, you can help him learn about life as well. Don't delay, thinking that your child is too young or incapable of handling responsibilities. Draw a list of chores that can enhance the home learning environment and invite your child to take part in them. Here are a few suggestions:
- Arranging the shoe rack and folding laundry: These are very simple tasks that a child can easily do. Doing these would help your child keep things in a neat and organized manner.
- Tidying up the house: Ask him to tidy up his own room and make his bed every morning after he wakes up. Tidying up his space would make your child appreciate cleanliness and keep his surroundings clean.
- Maintaining the garden (if you have one): Connecting with nature can make your child feel responsible for the environment. If your house has a garden, ask your child to take care of it by watering the plants and pulling out the weeds. Not only would this bring your child closer to nature but also help her learn a lot about the plant kingdom.
- Preparing the evening snack: One of the most important life skills to learn is the art of cooking. Initiate your child into cooking by encouraging him to prepare the evening snack for himself. He can begin with learning to prepare a sandwich, gradually moving to more complex dishes. Learning to cook helps a child learn how to measure, understand and follow directions, and why it's important to eat healthy foods.
Like knowledge gained from academics, life skills learnt doing household chores also help children lead better lives. But, there's no end to learning-and children can learn a lot even when they are engaging in art. In fact, art activities can enrich the home learning environment you seek to create for your child.
What your child learns through art
- Storytelling: Children have a vivid imagination, and most young children do come up with stories of their own. Tell your child a story and then encourage him to come up with one of his own. Or, you can tell a part of a story and challenge him to complete the rest. Storytelling can help your child improve his logical thinking and language skills, and learn about moral values.
- Drawing and painting: You can encourage him to draw and paint. Suggest something that he can try - drawing a landscape or a butterfly and coloring it. Drawing and painting help a child focus, pay attention to details, and control hand movements, apart from nurturing his creativity and imagination.
- Music: Almost every child enjoys listening to music, be it vocal or instrumental. While your child is at home, encourage her to sing, dance or learn how to play a musical instrument like a keyboard. Learning to play well takes time and practice; this helps a child understand that if she doesn't give up and sticks to what she's doing, she will improve.
It takes a long time for a child to learn how to draw and paint or play a musical instrument well. So, when your child is doing any of these activities, emphasize on regular practice for improvement. Remember, encouraging your child to persist with what he is doing is more important than focusing on the results.
Learning is not limited to reading books, completing assignments and solving puzzles. Children also learn from everyday experiences of conversing with someone, doing tasks, coming up with a new way of doing something and finding solutions to problems they may be facing. Let the break from school be an opportunity for your child to explore and learn from the world outside of books.
In a nutshell
- Learning can happen even without books through conversations, DIY activities, household chores and art.
- Learning outside the classroom through activities is challenging, interesting and fun.
- When children learn outside the classroom and through activities, they become more independent, learn how to problem-solve and work in different environments.
What you can do right away
- Try to engage your child in conversations, and use age-appropriate words to explain everything to her.
- "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." - Confucius. This dictum still applies to children. So, engage your child in activities to help him better understand how and why things happen.
- Instead of laying down rigid rules for activities, make them fun, for that's the way children love to learn.